As ‘Laura’ recovery begins, Watertown Red Cross helps out

As ‘Laura’ recovery begins, Watertown Red Cross helps out
Cortney Shatraw from the Red Cross builds maps in her office Thursday morning. The maps show areas hit by Hurricane Laura. (Source: WWNY)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It will be a long time before parts of Louisiana return to anything like normal.

When they get there, it will be with a helping hand from the Red Cross in Watertown.

The southern coastal areas of Louisiana were swamped by Hurricane Laura overnight, with winds up to 150 miles per hour.

The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday, but was still dangerous, bringing torrential rains and 70 mile per hour wind gusts.

A long way from the rain and wind, Cortney Shatraw, the Red Cross Disaster Program Manager in Watertown, sat at her laptop Thursday morning and shaped maps of southern Louisiana, maps of places where the hurricane hit.

“I’m a little bit of a nerd. I can admit that,” she told a reporter.

Here’s how it works: volunteers use “these fantastic apps” on their phones to record the damage to peoples’ homes, Shatraw said.

“It’ll upload into my map, and as I see those “pins” ( what she calls the locations where damage is recorded) dropping for each home that is affected, we are able to plan what they are gonna do.” The Red Cross is able to use the information about each home to help each individual family.

“I can see a level of damage, so I can see if it’s a little bit of water, I can see if there’s power outages,” Shatraw said.

“I can even help keep our work force safe, because I can see if there’s bridges out, if there are roads that are closed.”

Shatraw is just back from a tour of duty helping out with Hurricane Isaias in Pennsylvania, and is headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana Monday, where she’ll help coordinate recovery efforts.

“I’m expecting a lot of flood damage, water lines on homes, I’m expecting downed trees, power lines,” she said.

“We want them (the people hurt by the hurricane) to feel supported,” she said. “With the Red Cross we can do that.”

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