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Local Red Cross volunteers to assist with Bastrop fire relief

By BY SONNY LONG - SLONG@VICAD.COM
Sept. 8, 2011 at 4:08 a.m.

Volunteer Marguerite Griffin prepares the Red Cross emergency response vehicle before departing to assist with relief aid at the Bastrop fire.

"We don't know what we're getting into, but the people need help."

Marguerite Griffin, a Red Cross volunteer who turns 83 in November, stated her mission simply.

"They really need our help," she said. "My heart goes out to them."

Griffin helped prepare the Red Cross emergency response vehicle in preparation for Thursday morning's trip to Magnolia where she and fellow volunteer Len Walker, 72, will assist in feeding victims and those working the wildfire in Bastrop.

Linda May, director of emergency services for the Red Cross Crossroads Chapter in Victoria, arm in a sling from a fall at a local fire scene earlier this week, said, "They will report to the First Baptist Church in Magnolia then be dispatched where they are needed for mass feeding."

May said the Houston area Red Cross chapter requested Victoria's assistance.

Griffin and Walker are two of only four nationally certified volunteers at the Crossroads Chapter, which qualifies them to work disasters anywhere in the country.

Griffin began volunteering with the agency in 2000. The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in East Texas in February 2003 was her first major event outside of the Victoria area.

Walker, who became a Red Cross volunteer in 2002, cut his volunteer teeth on Hurricane Katrina.

"About a year after I retired, I knew I needed to give something back," he said.

"For Katrina, I'd go in and stand in sweat all day long. The bottoms of my feet were just peeling off," he said. "That was my first one. What a way to learn."

Walker said he knows there will be plenty to do, too, at the Bastrop fire.

"I expect a lot of work. A lot of sweat," he said. "Thank God for a little bit cooler weather."

As Walker and Griffin prepared to leave, May jokingly said, "You two youngsters keep each other in line."

Then more seriously, added, "Don't bring any of those fires home. We've got enough here."

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