Mental Health Worker is Back Home From Houston
Food was ready on hand for those affected but how Maryjane describes it is having enough for 1,000 people when 10,000 showed up
FERGUS FALLS, MN — It all started when Maryjane Westra’s Red Cross training saved her son’s life.
“My son had a near drowning and it was my Red Cross training in CPR and lifesaving that kicked in and I ran out and did CPR on him and brought him back right away,” said Maryjane Westra, a Disaster Mental Health Worker with the Red Cross.
She has devoted her time and skills in local neighborhoods and in countries like Zimbabwe.
Maryjane just returned from lending a helping hand in one of the biggest disasters in history…Hurricane Harvey.
“The philosophy is that if people have good mental health care from the beginning of a disaster that there chances of being able to recover mentally healthy and physically healthy and take care of themselves and rebuild are much, much higher,” said Maryjane.
She says people from Houston walked into the Red Cross shelter soaking wet, dragging belongings ruined by the water.
“The water came up so fast it surprised everybody, it came into places they never expected,” said Maryjane.
Food was ready on hand for those affected but how Maryjane describes it is having enough for 1,000 people when 10,000 showed up.
“I had never worked in a mega shelter before, the first few nights we’re ten thousand people. Imagine a town the size of Fergus Falls all in one location,” said Maryjane.
Many of the people at the shelter were part of the homeless population. Their homes were flooded as well.
“One homeless man saying I even lost my tent. Said I don’t know where I’m going to go back to, so it made me think that’s not a lot different than somebody losing their home,” said Maryjane.
Just days after returning home to Fergus Falls, Maryjane will be deployed to a new disaster, probably helping those affected by Hurricane Irma.
Maryjane is the only licensed mental health worker for Red Cross in Minnesota.