NASA Glenn employees volunteering in California to help wildfire survivors

Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 18:00:11-04

As the wildfires continue to ravage Northern California, there’s an urgent push to get government workers from all over the country to help. The federal government is urging 5,000 employees to step up and make a difference.

Here in Northeast Ohio, the NASA Glenn center in Cleveland confirmed 18 of its employees have volunteered to sign up. They're either in the training process or already deployed.


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News 5 talked to NASA Aerospace Engineer Dan Sutliff from Brunswick. After 5 days of training, he was officially deployed three days ago.

He has been working long hours out in the field, helping wildfire survivors to sign up for FEMA benefits.

“They have been through a lot,” said Dan Sutliff, “Some of them have lost everything, and they're just happy that someone could come in and listen to their stories, and we're going to try to help them get back together.”

The Human Resources Director at NASA Glenn Lori Pietravoia said there was a short turnaround time for her employees to volunteer.

“Initially, I was curious that we would get anybody interested. However, I was pleasantly surprised,” she said, “I just want to thank personally all the volunteers that came forward and then offered their time and willing to put themselves out there.”

FEMA sent out the notice late last month. The volunteers had to make the quick decision to leave their jobs and their families for 45 days to help out.

Sutliff while helping the folks in California, he's also gained a lot and a new perspective on life.

“It's helped me to realize how fortunate I am, and that at any moment, through nothing I've done, everything could be taken away in a moment’s notice,” he said.

These volunteers are not fighting any fires, but solely meeting with survivors to help them cope and sign up for benefits.

During their 45-day deployment, they can be moved at any time to other parts of the country, such as Texas, Florida or Puerto Rico.