Oklahomans Spend Thanksgiving Helping Hurricane Sandy Victims

Thursday, November 22nd 2012, 10:59 pm

This Thanksgiving some Oklahomans are spending the holiday away from their families in order to help others. 

Red Cross volunteers are still on the east coast helping victims of hurricane Sandy. Even before Hurricane Sandy hit, Red Cross volunteers from Oklahoma began heading to the east coast. Seven are still there.

For Millions hit by Sandy, this is a very different Thanksgiving. Debris still lines the coastline, thousands are without electricity and many are still without a home.

"I hope everyone remembers there's still a disaster going on out here," said Toby Friesen.

Friesen spoke to News 9 via Skype from a friend's house earlier Thursday before heading back out to help hurricane victims.  Typically, this Oklahoma City man spends Thanksgiving eating turkey and watching football.

"I miss my family, I miss my friends," he said. "You hate to miss out on the holidays but this is a great opportunity to help those who didn't have the choice to miss their Thanksgiving, they just had to."

Friesen left Oklahoma for the east coast about a week after Hurricane Sandy hit. He's been on the ground in New York City for two weeks. He helps coordinate case workers who go to FEMA sites and make sure storm victims are getting the assistance they need. 

It can be heartbreaking work. But it will give this Thanksgiving special meaning.

"Makes me feel great, makes me grateful for what I have," said Friesen.  "It makes me feel a renewed sense of energy for our country because you see people coming together,"

Friesen says most people are now going through a second phase, at first they were worried about their immediate needs, now they are trying to get back on their feet.

Friesen says the Red Cross currently has 5,300 volunteers on the ground.