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Arts & Life

RC Volunteer Helps With WA Mudslide

A Rapid City Red Cross volunteer is in Washington state helping with a devastating mudslide. It happened a week ago Saturday. Now aBlack Hills professor is working with family members and survivors.

South Dakota’s Red Cross volunteers often help with local crises – blizzards, fires, and other extreme circumstances near home. But when major incidents happen, the American Red Cross reaches out across the country to find the right volunteers for people’s needs.

Richard Smith is the executive director of the Red Cross in Rapid City. He says a Black Hills State instructor and licensed mental health counselor is deployed to the Washington state mudslide.

"The American Red Cross volunteer Nancy Sprynczynatyk is up there to help people that have been affected by the disaster – whether that’s the people who have lost a family member or the responders that are out currently looking for people who may be trapped, so they’ll be out providing mental health counseling with her," Smith says.

Sprynczynatyk was first deployed with the American Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Smith says disaster mental health workers can help people get through traumatic events, starting with the initial shock. He says counselors can then arm people with tools to cope with what they’ve seen or with the loved ones they’ve lost. Smith notes it’s just the first step in a long process of healing after disaster.