Elvia Alaniz, Red Cross Contributor

Liz Miller has been a volunteer since 2005 after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. She arrived in Houston just a couple of days ago in preparation of what was expected to be extensive flooding and displaced residents along the gulf coast. Her nursing skills have enabled her to be deployed to floods, fires, mudslides, hurricanes, volcanoes and shootings dozens of times since taking on the role of Red Cross volunteer.

These past few days for Liz have been about educating those affected by flood waters.  “I am assigned to an Emergency Response Vehicle during which my duties include looking for anyone with any unmet disaster related health needs. I also educate people about flooding hazards especially how the water contaminates everything it touches and even when the flood waters have now receded and the once wet items now appear dry, they are still just as contaminated and need to either be discarded or thoroughly cleaned.”

Liz’s path to becoming a volunteer began when her husband, a police officer for the Sacramento Police Department, was killed in the line of duty while she was 5 months pregnant in 1981. She was supported by the community with baby showers and fundraisers, that generosity in turn filled her with a desire to help others.  She recalls a time when she was assigned to a shelter in Daytona Beach, Florida and used not only her nursing skills but people skills to build relationships with clientele by using humor.  She would go cot to cot with a friendly smile, a basket of Red Cross snacks and a special greeting of “Room service”.  She remembers how their reactions changed from guarded and uncertain, to warm and welcoming with a smile and laughter.  After only a couple of days the clients felt comfortable enough to disclose their medical needs along with the medical or mental health needs of other clients within the shelter.