There will be no Thanksgiving at home this week for two Maui Memorial Medical Center nurses and a Maui paramedic, though they are receiving lots of thanks for the work they are doing.
Nurses Ken Moskow and Lara Iwankiw-Sutton and paramedic Ryan Joslin got the call on Veterans Day and were on their way to New York the next day as part of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) Hawaii to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Their two-week stint will keep them on the East Coast past Thanksgiving, said Moskow by phone Friday.
"We're here for Thanksgiving. Boo," he said, adding that he left his wife and two children to aid those displaced by Sandy.
Assigned to Brooklyn Armory, the DMAT crew is providing medical assistance, especially to chronically ill residents who have been displaced by the storm, he said. Working a minimum of 12-hour shifts, they have no days off. The routine is: Work as long as it takes, bed down, shower and back on duty.
For those in the shelter that they are serving, being away from their homes since the storm hit Oct. 29 is getting long. They are evacuees whose areas remain uninhabitable, he said.
"It's been over two weeks now. They are fatigued and not being in their homes, and they want to go home," said Moskow.
Yet amid their frustration, Moskow has been impressed by the "outstanding" community effort with people coming together and helping out one another, regardless of their differences.
And they are appreciative of the help they are receiving.
"They are incredibly thankful for us being here," he said. "We get thanked a lot."
Moskow described the work that they are doing "as a natural part of what we do. You help people."
"It's such a big event," said Moskow, who also was mobilized after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "Some places are untouched, and you won't know anything happened and other places . . . were hit very hard."
The native of Long Island, N.Y., said that his family was safe, though he has not had a chance to see them due to his DMAT responsibilities.
When he got the call Veterans Day, there was a jumble of emotions.
"You don't know what you are getting into," he said. "There is apprehension, excitement.
"There is a feeling I have to leave my family behind."
He will be away from home this Thanksgiving. Still, surely there must be turkey with all the fixings for the relief workers?
"I'm sure we'll have some turkey sandwiches," he said.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.
* DMAT mobilization. Amy Baker, a Maui pharmacist, is a member of the Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) currently in New York aiding victims of Hurricane Sandy.
A story on Page A1 on Monday omitted her name.
The Maui News apologizes for the error.
* The Maui News wants to promptly correct errors in fact or make clarifications on information appearing in the newspaper. To report an error or clarification, please call 242-6343 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.