As Hurricane Florence lashed the Carolinas with rain and flooding when it made landfall on Sept. 14, Ridgefielder Thomas Kimball was one of the many who answered the call to help. The American Red Cross volunteer recently deployed to Wilmington, N.C., in preparation for the storm. \u201cRight now, my deployment is for sheltering and feeding,\u201d Kimball told The Press by phone on Sunday, Sept. 23. \u201cMy job is basically to help people register, and also to get them to available cots.\u201d He got back to town on Oct. 1, after spending a few extra days assisting a Red Cross Disaster Services Technology (DST) team in North Carolina. He deployed with the Red Cross on Sept. 11 \u2014 18 years to the day since he assisted the New York Guard following the attacks on the World Trade Center. For Hurricane Florence, he worked at three shelters all operated out of local schools. Providing food for Florence\u2019s victims was not a problem, as most of the cafeterias at the schools were open and operational, Kimball said. His day-to-day job involved unloading relief supplies trucked in \u2014 MREs, cots, bottles of water, and making sure those in his care were looked after. The job included everything from issuing Red Cross comfort kits when people arrived, helping people in and out of wheelchairs, and even getting people an extra blanket. \u201cA lot of them have lost everything, their houses have been flooded out,\u201d Kimball told The Press. \u201cOne gentleman said his house had burned.\u201d By the Red Cross\u2019s own reporting, more than 1,660 people were sheltered by the organization in the Carolinas. This was Kimball\u2019s third deployment for disaster relief. He previously took part in relief efforts for Hurricane Irma in Florida in 2017, and was going to go to Puerto Rico after that but was diverted at the last minute. Community helper Kimball graduated from Joel Barlow High School in Redding in 1989. Since moving to Ridgefield, he\u2019s been active in the community, volunteering at the town\u2019s health department, where he said Health Director Ed Briggs \u2014 also a Red Cross volunteer \u2014 \u201ctook me under his wing.\u201d He also volunteers at ROAR, and both the Ridgefield Social Services food bank and the Connecticut food bank. \u201cHe helps out where he can,\u201d said Briggs, who is also a member of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. He said Kimball typically helps the department run health clinics for vaccinations, and that he\u2019s trained in emergency radio communications. Florence had wreaked havoc on the Carolinas; in five days, releasing over 10 trillion gallons of water on the states, the Red Cross reported. Between 8,000 and 10,000 homes were estimated to have been destroyed by the storm\u2019s destructive path. Kimball said the best way to make a donation is to text REDCROSS to 90999, to give $10 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people affected by the hurricane. He said a $20 donation is enough to purchase a comfort kit \u2014 the basic hygiene kit disaster victims are given when they arrive at a shelter. Kimball noted he wouldn\u2019t have been able to help out in North Carolina if his parents hadn\u2019t offered to watch his pets. Sometimes the job is about just comforting people in need. \u201cWhat\u2019s interesting is when you\u2019re doing sheltering, you\u2019re interacting with the clients,\u201d said Kimball, \u201c[you] really try to just be a good listener.\u201d Residents can also donate to Florence relief efforts at: redcross.org\/donations\/ways-to-donate\/text-mail-phone.html.