Three Great Bend residents who flew to New York last Thursday are scheduled to return home at the end of the week, after helping victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Kathie Michael, Kathy Mortimor and Christine Martinez, all employees of Pathways ResCare, rescheduled vacations and other projects to help people who were displaced by the storm, said Sherry Johnson, executive director of the Great Bend residential services company.
Responding to disasters is nothing new for ResCare, which has branches in most states, Johnson said. “ResCare on Call” responders are known as ROC Stars and travel to sister agencies. But that program was expanded in May when ResCare Inc. was awarded a contract by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide personal and home-health care to any state where the president has declared a disaster.
Great Bend’s ResCare employees have been staying in FEMA-established shelters with the people they’re assigned to help. In many cases, those are people who are elderly, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who ordinarily receive help from family members or caregivers who are not available at the shelter site. But in fact, Martinez said, “we’ve helped everybody.” They’ve done everything from counseling to helping feed, clothe and sometimes bathe people during their 12-hour shifts, she said. "I’ve talked to a few people who lost everything.”
The three spent most of their time in Manhattan, then moved to Queens this week. The last time Johnson spoke with them they had moved to Brooklyn, she said Tuesday.