Former Army paratrooper lived through Andrews, volunteers for Irma relief

This former Army paratrooper is headed to Florida to volunteer with the Red Cross.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - She's lived through one of the worst Hurricanes to hit the United States. Now, the former Army paratrooper is headed to Florida to volunteer with the Red Cross. 

"I got a call at 6:00 o'clock this morning saying, 'you're reading to go today, right?' Sure, absolutely!"  

That's the can-do attitude of Shelly Pelcher, who called the Red Cross on Thursday to tell them she would volunteer for Hurricane Irma relief if they needed her.

TRACK HURRICANE IRMA

On Friday, she was quickly packing for a 6 p.m. flight to Orlando, the relief center for the storm. 

"I will be the logistics and in-kind donations managers," which, Pelcher explained deals with donations from companies. It can be food, water, or any other supplies.   

Shelly use to work for the Red Cross and did the same job. Before that, she was jumping out of airplanes.  

use to heading into disaster zones.  

But the reason she's volunteering for the Red Cross has to do with her experiences before her Army career. 

"The Red Cross is always there," she said. 

In 1992, Pelcher was a student at the University of Miami when Hurricane Miami hit. Miami was not under any evacuation order. She waited out the storm in her apartment where she taped up the windows and hid under a mattress as instructed. But through the night, she her windows in the building across the street being blown out 

"In the middle of the night, every one of those windows exploded. The glass exploded. And that's all I remember hearing. The wind, it sounded like a freight train coming through the hallway of my apartment," she said. 

In 2004, when Hurricane Charley hit the middle of Florida, it demolished her parents' home and farm. 

Irma is a strong Category 4 hurricane

"It came so quickly and furious, it leveled their entire farm. Killed every animal. Blew their entire house away," she said. 

After both storms, Pelcher says the Red Cross was the first to show up.   

"After Andrew, that's the first vehicle I saw. I hid under a mattress," she said. "Back in those days, they were like, put tape on your windows, that's going to be the best thing for you. You look around the city and it was like total destruction." 

"That's why I do what I do. I mean I wish I could volunteer 365-24-7," she said. 

Pelcher had to quickly make arrangements for her two dogs to be cared for over the next two weeks. Once that was done, her biggest worry is her family. Some still live in Florida and are refusing to evacuate.  

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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