PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A Petersburg woman set off for her 44th deployment with the Red Cross on Tuesday.
This time Susie Clarke is headed to to Tennessee for wildfire recovery, but she says the feeling of helping others never gets old.
While watching the TV reports of flames ripping through homes and businesses in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Clarke had one thing on her mind.
"I wanted to go because I wanted to help," said Clarke.
As a Red Cross volunteer, Clarke has been deployed to dozens of disasters and tragedies across the county.
Her first trip was after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Twice this year she's offered help to communities in flood-ravaged Louisiana.
She packed her bags once again Tuesday with her blood pressure monitor, first aid kit, and one other very important item ready to make her way to the smoky mountains in Tennessee.
"My love," said Clarke.
Once in the Smoky Mountains, Clarke will work 12-hour shifts as a nurse for nearly two weeks.
"I'll mostly be supporting them in any way I can. Make sure they are comfortable, make sure their medical needs are met," said Clarke. "I feel for them and I would be treating them like I would want someone to treat me if I was in the same situation."
Forced from their homes when the fire broke out, 1,200 people sought refuge in the three shelters set up by the red cross in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Clarke says while she's there to provide aid, and support, a dose of compassion is what many of the families need who lost everything in the fires.
"I know that you are going through something right now, but it won't always be this way and you will recover and it's going to make you a better person," said Clarke. "You're stronger now."
For more information on the Red Cross or to donate, visit redcross.org, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
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