SAN ANTONIO – Tony Perez has just three days to pack up and head out to Hawaii.
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He is leaving his family for two weeks for what he said will be his toughest mission yet. The Red Cross volunteer and registered nurse was asked to head to the Big Island where lava and toxic fumes continue consuming communities.
Perez will be met by evacuees who need help. Red Cross nurses are hired as case workers and never know what their duty will be until they arrive.
"We put people with resources so they can manage their losses," Perez said. "At the same time, we work in shelters where we actually assist with clients’ needs that are medically based."
Despite all of his training and experience in disaster situations, he knows nothing can prepare him for what he's about to see.
"A lot of people going through a lot of pain because of their loss. A lot of anguish. It's very difficult. Having everything gone," said Perez.
In the three days before he leaves for Hawaii, Perez will prepare to maintain his composure. He shed tears speaking about what people in Hawaii must be going through.
"I don't do this in front of my clients. Because they need someone to talk to that can be objective and help them. But at the same time, we are caring," Perez said.
He will prepare to keep his promise of responding when he's needed most.
"Whatever the need is, if we can meet it, we meet it."