Knoxville Red Cross volunteer recounts deployment to Florida condo collapse

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – An East Tennessee Red Cross volunteer was among those who traveled to Surfside, Florida to help out in the aftermath of the building collapse there. Dianne Britton, of Knoxville, is a disaster mental health volunteer. She specializes in responding to mass casualties.

“Just a feeling that everyone is waiting and holding their breath and hopeful against all odds,” Britton said. She gave a sense of what it was like in Surfside when she responded.

“There’s a large need for community mental health support there,” Britton said. “And so that was my role in the Red Cross there and to support the people who are going out and working with the actual victims. To make sure that they had someone that they could rely on.”

Sadly, Britton has deployed to tragedies before. She provided support at the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Boston Bombing, and September 11.

“The noise. The police and fire. When I was in New York City after September 11, there were a lot of people there and there was a lot of noise and there was a lot of fear and there was a lot of running. In this instance, there wasn’t that so much. But it was just noisy. So that made everybody reactive I think,” said Britton.

While she was on the ground in Florida, she says she could feel the support shown to the grieving city.

She’s asking for continued compassion and concern.

“I think if you put yourself in the place of the people who are waiting or the people who have already found out, I just can’t imagine what that must be like. So I would just ask that we continue, as we’re going about our day, to hold them in our hearts,” Britton said.

Britton came home to Knoxville on July 3. She left for Florida the day after the condo collapsed.

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