Local News

Triangle Red Cross Volunteers Go To Washington

Posted September 16, 2001

— Flights are still sporadic out of Raleigh-Durham International, but traffic is moving again. Among the passengers departing Sunday were four members of the Red Cross who are heading to Washington, D.C., to help with relief efforts.

Five days ago, social worker Libby Deal packed her lunch for work. Today, she packed her bags for Washington, D.C., and the destruction at the Pentagon. The clinical social worker will help rescuers, survivors, and families of those missing or dead confront the cruel outcome.

"Primarily, we listen. We invite them to say whatever is in their hearts or on their minds," Deal said.

Horrific pictures race through the minds of witnesses, firefighters, police, and survivors themselves. Retired hospital chaplain Claude Deal expects to find extreme emotions.

"Shock and denial are sort of like shock absorbers. They sort of cushion us from the abruptness and the harshness. Sometimes we need to hold on to that to get through a certain phase of the trauma and the loss and the grief," he said.

The rescuers have worked day and night for five days trying to locate survivors in the Pentagon's rubble. The Red Cross volunteers will spend two weeks helping those blindsided by Tuesday's attack make small steps forward.

"Even if it's as small as taking a walk, doing something very concrete, and very specific to take care of themselves in this process," social worker Priscilla Shows said.

The attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center stunned the world. Helping the victims cope takes its toll on the helpers too.

"I imagine it's going to be draining, and for that reason I'm glad that the four of us are going to gether, so that we can provide emotional support for each other," psychologist Derek Shows said.

The Deals provided a similar service during Hurricane Floyd and remember a certain deadness to the damaged area. Libby Deal said she expects the Pentagon destruction to be similar, but thinks her patients condition will be much rawer. But none of the four hesitated to volunteer when asked.


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