Local Woman Ready to Answer Call to Help

Local Woman Ready to Answer Call to Help
By: Crystal Britt
JACKSON, Mo. - People from right here in the Heartland continue to step up, ready to help as fires continue to rage in southern California. 
Carol Smith has her bags packed and she's ready to help.  She knows first hand what those now homeless families are going through since losing her home in 2005. 
"A gas fire...and like that it was out of control.  It was gone, up in smoke," Smith said.
Not much is left on the rural Jackson land where Carol's home once stood. Mother's Day two years ago, a fire ignited in the kitchen. Carol and her two young children grabbed what they could and escaped.
"No one responded.  It was Mother's Day.  It was a Sunday.  It was dreadful.  No one was out there.  My kids were freaking out," said said. 
She says she sought out help from places like the Red Cross.
"Our organization at that time was weaker than it is now," said Smith. 
She felt more could have been done which is one reason why she's now an active volunteer.  For Carol, it all started when Hurricane Katrina hit.
"I went out in the field.  A bunch of people went out in the field.  We started training people.  We got a lot of stuff rolling," she said. 
Then, the new volunteer found herself helping families close to home when tornadoes struck Carruthersville, then later Crosstown.
As soon as she saw news coverage on the fires in California she didn't think twice about going. 
"No brainer to me," Smith said. 
There, Carol will know exactly what families are going through.
"The uniqueness of the volunteers, they can relate to the emotional issues, the mental health issues the families are going through," said Cheryl Klueppel, Executive Director of the Southeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross.
"Anybody that's had an experience like that...they just come together, they say I want to help you because you've been in the middle of it," said Smith.
She's ready to go at a moment's notice.
"If I'm going to go down there, I'm going to be feeding people because they're going to be hungry. When I went through this I didn't have food, shoes, money.  So, let me feed you today, that's what I want to do," said Smith.