PITTSFIELD — More than a year after retiring, former city firefighter Daniel Amuso is still heeding the call to action.
Amuso, 61, is in Madisonville, La., assisting with relief efforts in the flood-ravaged region as a volunteer with the American Red Cross. He will be there for two weeks, he told the Eagle on Friday.
Amuso, who retired from the Pittsfield Fire Department in July 2015, said he began volunteering with the Red Cross in January and has participated in local relief efforts such as assisting families forced out of their homes by fire.
This is his first deployment as part of a relief operation, he said.
As much as two feet of rain was reported over two days, beginning Aug. 12, causing at least 13 deaths and damaging more than 100,000 homes in the Baton Rouge area, according to The Associated Press. About 2,600 people remained in shelters, and more than 119,000 households have registered for federal aid.
"The level of damage is the biggest disaster since Katrina," Amuso said. "And we all know what that was like."
By Friday morning, Amuso had just been on the outskirts of the damage, but could easily see debris like sheetrock, furniture and appliances stacked outside of flood-damaged homes to allow access for cleanup efforts.
Amuso said he'd be spending Friday with another volunteer from Kentucky bringing supplies like shovels, sterilizing materials, antiseptics, dust masks and garbage bags to assist with cleaning out, "the houses that are still standing."
According to the Red Cross, more than 1,900 workers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are supporting the relief effort, along with hundreds of local residents.
In addition to providing food and shelter, Red Cross volunteers are providing emotional support to help people cope.
Health services volunteers are monitoring the health needs of people in shelters and replacing things like lost wheelchairs, eyeglasses and medications.
With the assistance of local, state and federal partners, the Red Cross said it has already served over a quarter-million meals and snacks, distributed more than 60,000 relief items and provided more than 40,000 overnight stays in emergency shelters.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.