Hope College grad’s 1st disaster deployment: Hurricane Irma

Kelsey Van Eyl-Godin shares her expectations for her first disaster deployment with the American Red Cross.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The American Red Cross of West Michigan is sending more help to areas expected to be hit by Hurricane Irma.

Four of the volunteers are in Florida and South Carolina, waiting for Irma to make landfall.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of Irma | How you can help

A fifth volunteer will soon get a firsthand look at the devastation already left behind.

This is the first major disaster deployment for 2016 Hope College graduate Kelsey Van Eyl-Godin.

“I’ve been told kind of expect the most brutal (situation) you can,” she said Friday.

By Sunday, Van Eyl-Godin expects to land on St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. She’s filled with expectations and perhaps a little trepidation.

“I’m really hoping that this is a life-changing experience, but a very positive one at that,” said Van Eyl-Godin.

Irma slammed into the Virgin Islands Wednesday with sustained winds of 150 mph, destroying homes and businesses.

Van Eyl-Godin’s job will be ensuring victims of the storm have the basics to survive.

“So I’ll be making sure that clients and people affected down there are getting their food and that we’re able to provide meals and snacks to all of those that (sic) are affected,” said Van Eyl-Godin.

She says she knows she’ll have to be self-sufficient during the deployment. Potable water will be hard to come by and Van Eyl-Godin will be lucky is she gets a cot to sleep on during the expected three-week assignment.

“I’m not super use to rough living,” said Van Eyl-Godin. “I’m a geology major in college, so I’m used to a few weeks of camping, but not the whole three-week period. So I know that it’s definitely going to be difficult, but it’s something I’m very passionate about and I’m excited to go.”

While the focus is on Irma, there are still plenty of people hurting from Harvey. You can help by donating to the American Red Cross through its website.