CrowdRelief Disaster Stories

Help those affected by disasters by reading their survival and recovery stories!
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This story is about disaster volunteer Marleen Hugo
Thursday, May 16, 2019

Cajun Navy Foundation volunteer Marleen Hugo was recently presented the Women for Animal Welfare Award by the Humane Society of Charlotte, on behalf of multiple animal welfare groups across the state North Carolina. Marleen was nominated for the award by another Cajun Navy Foundation volunteer, Michelle Szinavel, along with others as one of 30 nominees. Marleen has been working with animal rescues following disasters since Hurricane Katrina. After suffering a near-fatal brai...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Michelle Szinavel
Thursday, March 7, 2019

Volunteer: Michelle Szinavel Zello name: Chewy2017 From: Shelton, CT Disasters Worked: Louisiana Flood 2016, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, California Fires, 2019 Tennessee Flooding, 2019 Alabama Tornado When I first started with Cajun Navy Foundation, I was just going to post articles and messages to help people get information; but when I began taking care of the inbox, it really opened my eyes. I spoke wit...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Jamie Bitner
Saturday, March 2, 2019

Volunteer: Jamie Bitner Zello Name: Jbitner3 From: Big Spring, Texas Disasters worked: Hurricanes Florence and Michael, California Wildfires I work in Dispatch with Cajun Navy Foundation and CrowdRelief, and I am very pushy. When I first got on Zello, I just jumped in and started helping. I have been here ever since. I volunteer because I’ve always had a passion to help people. I helped collect and pack donations for Harvey when I lived in North Texas. ...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Jamie Whitelaw
Friday, March 1, 2019

“The disaster is far from over,” began Jamie Whitelaw, Founder and President of North Bay Donate. “We have another storm coming in tonight - which could cause flood water to rise once again, and low-lying areas are still dealing with flooding and destruction, unfortunately. Whitelaw is a local in Cazadero, California, and was raised just ten minutes away in Guerneville (where most of the destruction has occurred due to recent flooding). Some of the water has since receded, but it...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Brian Antisdel
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Cajun Navy volunteer Brian Antisdel of Team Michigan is steadily making his way toward areas of Tennessee that are currently experiencing flooding along the rising Mississippi River. As he briefly stops over in Knoxville, he plans to travel another four or five hours to locate survivors in the affected areas and determine how he can help. “I had started driving to Louisville to look at a storefront there to expand my company when I got a call from Jerry Reeves, one of our Cajun N...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Brian Antisdel
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Volunteer: Brian AntisdelZello Handle: IT3 Michigan From: Dowagiac, Michigan Disasters worked: Hurricanes Hugo, Harvey, Florence and Michael; and California Wildfires Before joining Cajun Navy, I had already been assisting with relief missions in my own community. They would send me wherever people were in need. Then in 2018, I was ...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Shannon Savee
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Zello Handle: Slsavee2123 From: York, SC Disasters Worked: Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, California Wildfires I started out with Cajun Navy Foundation by helping with new volunteer vetting during Hurricane Florence. I also did a little bit of dispatch, and a lot of new volunteer coordination. With new people coming in, there is a lot to do as far as assigning roles and moving people around. As a team, we have all participated i...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Gregory Alexander
Monday, February 25, 2019

Volunteer: Greg AlexanderZello Name: Alexgreg93From: Southgate, MichiganDisasters I've worked: Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, California wildfiresI first found myself volunteering when my friend, Brian, was on his way to assist survivors of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. I began helping him on Zello, and that's when I got involved with Cajun Navy Foundation. During Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and later during the C...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Marleen Hugo
Monday, February 25, 2019

Volunteer: Marleen HugoZello Handle: PugtacularFrom: Charlotte, North CarolinaDisasters I've worked: Katrina, Moore, OK, Joplin, MO, Matthew, Harvey, Florence and California WildfiresAfter suffering a near-fatal brain hemorrhage in 2001, I realized that I had been given a second chance to live. I wanted to make this second chance purposeful, and to try and do as much as possible to make this world a better place for the animals we share our daily li...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Shane Callcut
Sunday, February 24, 2019

Volunteer: Shane Callcut Zello Name: Bigfoot City, State: Fayetteville, Arkansas Disasters worked: Back half of Florence, Michael, California Wildfires My first experience with a disaster was with Hurricane Katrina, when I volunteered to go down and help with cleanup and hand out supplies. It’s an experience I will never forget - the sights, sounds and smells. You can’t forget it. Then several disasters later, I began helping in the background. In 2011, I became a ...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Darcy Hopkins
Saturday, February 23, 2019

Zello: Darcyhopkins Huntsville, Alabama Storms involved in: Hurricane Michael Work: Emotional Support, Social Media, Runner, Fund Raiser How I got involved: My Mother lives in Panama City and after not hearing from her for three days after the storm, the Cajun Navy located her and got word to me. After that there were CN volunteers that camped in her yard while working recovery efforts. They showered at her house and shared meals and fellowship...

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This story is about disaster volunteer Lori Kirkpatrick
Saturday, February 23, 2019

Name: Lori Kirkpatrick Zello Handle: Lori411 Hampstead, North Carolina Disasters I have worked: Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, and California Wildfires After teaching elementary school for 17 years, six years ago I took a big leap over to working with adults. I currently teach several multilevel English as a Second Language classes at a community college. I started writing for a local newspaper in 2013, and became a staff writer for the weekly publicat...

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This story was created by Doris Green who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Homeowner is At Wit's End After Volunteers Damage Property After Hurricane Michael

Volunteers came and cut part of a tree down and said they were coming back, but never did.  Some of the tree remains, as well as a large upturned trunk in the back yard.  When they cut the tree, they smashed my sidewalk, steps, the rail I needed to get down the steps, a retaining wall, and  part of my porch.  Insurance won't cover the costs because the damage was done by volunteers.

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This story was created by Amanda Grice who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Saturday, February 16, 2019

We Are Lost After Hurricane Michael; We Have Nothing

Hi.  I'm Amanda, and I'm 32.  My three children, my wife, my mother, and I lost our home because Hurricane Michael partially tore our roof off.  My mother, my wife, and I are each disabled.  FEMA processed our initial application quickly, and the funds that were approved went for housing, replacement of clothing and other essentials, debris removal, and tarping of the master bedroom roof.  However, what we were allotted was nowhere near enough.  We are very low i...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Jessica Ostrowski about Kc Snow who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Friday, February 15, 2019

I am a victim of the California Wild Fires.   I am safe and healthy, but need to fix my place and help others do the same.I am thankful for waking up the morning of the fire to use the bathroom and, instead of crawling back in bed and ignoring the dogs barking, which is what I was literally about ...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Cassey Cat McMurray about Cassey Cat McMurray who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Friday, February 15, 2019

My name’s Cassie McMurray, or Coach Cat as many know me.  I’m the Paradise High School Cheerleading coach and my family are Camp Fire Survivors.  I wanted to tell our story so people could hear it and maybe it could help somebody. I have five daughters and on November 8, it started as a normal day for my family.  We got up at 6:30 for school and got everybody ready.  I dropped my little three daughters off at e...

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This story was created by Ernest Urban who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Homeless Paradise Evacuees Seeking Urgent Help

Following the Camp Fire in Paradise, Ca, my fiance and I were staying at the Redcross Shelter at Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, Ca.  We have FEMA and Redcross cases there, still pending.  Redcross forced us to leave shelter and we had nowhere to go.  Since then, we have been living in our car.  We haven't gotten any help.  Every day, we stress about how we are going to eat or get gas for our car.  We have been complying with FEMA and Redcross since day one.&...

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This story was created by Crystal Autrey who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Thursday, February 14, 2019

It had been raining for days upon days.  My ex-husband took my car to work that day, and I kept his truck.  I was watching the news and realized he needed to get home.  All of the roads around were closing due to the high water.  Later that night, my step-mother called asking us for help.  Their road floods during storms and always had.  I had another friend call me and I asked her to please call me and wake me up so I could go help my parents. At 6:30 AM, she ca...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Jessica Ostrowski about Kayla Modrell who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Monday, February 11, 2019

My Camp Fire evacuation started at 7:30 am when I told my boss that I think we should leave.  Before the fire, I worked at an assisted living home with the elderly.  My boss called a meeting. One of my co-workers, Tia, and I started getting residents up and in the living room.  By 9:30 am, I loaded three residents into my car.  We didn’t get off of Sawmill Road till 10:30 am.Houses were going up in flames and I did what I had to.  The ladies I had in my c...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Jessica Ostrowski about Joe Arias who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Monday, February 11, 2019

It was November 8, 2018.  Joe Arias and housemate Michael woke up that morning to the sounds of unexplained explosions.  Shortly after, at 7:30 AM, Joe's three-year-old daughter, Jayde, was dropped off to him.  Jayde's mother, Samantha, told Joe that a fire had started near their small mountain town of Paradise, California, and had spread to 180 acres.  The explosions Joe and Michael heard earlier that morning had been propane tanks on nearby properties.  The sky was ora...

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This story was created by Amy Mcfarland who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Monday, February 11, 2019

On November 8th, our lives were forever changed.  The kids went to school, I went to work, and my husband and I prepared for our daughter's tenth birthday the following day.  As we left the house that day, we had no idea it would be for the last time.  A mere two hours later, I was frantically dialing cell phones, trying to reach my children.  My husband was able to get them from their schools, but then we lost contact.  Before my son's phone cut out, he t...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Jessica Ostrowski about Nicole Ritza who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Sunday, February 10, 2019

On the day of November 8, 2018, I got up to get ready to work.  Left my house at 6:30 am.  Passed a fire engine on my way to work.  Didn’t think anything of it.  Sitting at work.  7:15 am- I look outside and could tell by the color of the sky that there is a fire near.  I log onto Facebook and read there’s a fire in the Pulga Concow area.  Still didn’t think much of it as we are sti...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Jessica Ostrowski about Brittney Morrison who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thirty-four-year-old Brittney Morrison finally felt she had gotten to an ideal place in her life.  She had landed a job she loved, built a loving home with partner Michael, her three beautiful children were happy, healthy, and enthusiastically learning through an incredible homeschooling program, and Brittney was getting ready to start taking some night classes to further herself even more.  She loved where she had planted her roots—in the small mountain town of Paradise, California...

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This story was created by Dannette Barefield who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Sunday, February 10, 2019

Two Times Burnt

CrowdRelief Survivor Stories

My story really started 20 years ago.  I was a young mother of four who was woken by my young nephew telling me there was a fire.  As my eyes adjusted and focused, I looked past my nephew and saw flames aglow on my bedroom door.  Panicked, I ran outside for the water hose.  I lost two of my four babies that morning.  Now, 20 years later-- almost to the date 20 years later ( 1 day off)-- I am reliving the nightmare that I still can not wake up from.  This t...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Lori Kirkpatrick about Summer Strickland who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Sunday, February 10, 2019

It Takes a Village

CrowdRelief Survivor Stories

When people and organizations work together, the possibilities are endless. During Hurricane Florence, Cajun Navy Foundation (CNF) and the North Carolina Baptists on Mission were able to work together to help a victim in need. CNF had received a message from a worried mom. Her pregnant daughter’s home was full of toxic mold, and she wasn’t expecting help from her landlord. She was living in the home with her four-year-old son and feared that they might be evicted i...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Jessica Ostrowski about Rachel Galvin who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Saturday, February 9, 2019

My wife, Micalah, and I woke up, as usual, on November 8th, 2018-- a day like any other day.  Little did we know that November 8th, 2018, would be a date that would stay with us the rest of ou...

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This story was created by Susie Cook who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Saturday, February 9, 2019

Escaping the Flames

On November 8th, 2018 I woke up to a windy morning. I was watching the news while I was getting ready for work. The news said there was a 200 acre fire burning in Pulga...I wasnt worried, Pulga is a canyon away. I left to go down to work in Chico, by the time I made it part way down the hill my phone was blowing up with people telling me they were evacuating Paradise. I turned around and headed back home to get my son, dog and boyfriend. We had 10 minutes to grab what we could and get out. I ...

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This story was created by Scarolet Ellis who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Saturday, February 9, 2019

We are a family of six-- my husband, four teenangers, and I.  Two of them are special needs kids.  We used to live in Paradise, California, in what was called CHIP housing, which is low income housing.  On the day of Nov. 8th, our lives were changed.A fire broke out and we were ...

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This story was created by Tanessa Smith who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Saturday, February 9, 2019

The morning of November 8th, 2018, started just like any other.  It quickly turned into an ugly, hurry-up-and-wait, try to get out, run for your life, is my husband alive, is my son alive, are we going to live day.  A situation like I had never been in before.  We left our home at 9 AM to try to evacuate to the next town.  It is usually a 25 minute drive.  We arrived there at 6 PM.  We had spent several hours trying to evacuate.  I ended up trapped in...

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This story was created by disaster volunteer Rob Gaudet about who recently suffered loss in a disaster.
Thursday, February 7, 2019

On November 18th, the Cajun Relief Foundation participated in MidCity Merchant’s White Light Night Art event where they featured the work of local artist, Donna Bell. Donna, a 49 year old native of Louisiana who on June 28th 1979 was in a tragic car accident leaving her a C-3 C-4 quadriplegic. She was only 15 at the time of the wreck which broke her neck leaving her unable to move from the shoulders down for the past 34 years.It wasn’t until age 21, six years after the accident that a ...