Days after Hurricane Sandy ripped up the East Coast, Red Cross volunteers from around Southwest Texas were on their way to help victims in the New York-New Jersey area.
Steve Brown was one of the volunteers who was on the ground in New York City four days after the hurricane hit. The Converse city councilman became a public affairs officer in the middle of the disaster.
"These people are going to need help for months -- if not years -- to come," said Brown. "Just because of the mass (of the storm), it was in the middle of such a populated area (and) it was just devastating."
Brown returned home with heart-wrenching stories.
One in particular happened while he was helping serve hot meals. A couple told him about an elderly woman who was trapped in apartment on the 21st floor of a building because she was wheelchair-bound.
Brown said he grabbed a couple of comfort packs and headed to help. He climbed the stairs in the dark stairwell and finally made it to her door.
At first, she wouldn’t answer.
"I said, ‘It’s the Red Cross.' She said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I have come all the way from Texas to help you. Can you open the door?'" Brown said.
She finally opened the door, thankful to see him with blankets and food and even a hot meal.
"Feeling that warm meal brought tears to her eyes, " Brown said.
Brown happened to be helping victims in New York on Election Day.
He was up for re-election on the Converse City Council, but because of the work he was doing, he never really thought about the election until the mayor called him around 1:30 a.m.
"(It was) kind of a bittersweet moment, because I won the election I worked so hard on and at the same time, (I was) dealing with tragedy," he said.
Brown said the situation improved tremendously while he was there. Although there is a long way to go, the residents are learning to deal with the tragedy.