Jefferson Award Winner: Tonya Allard - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Jefferson Award Winner: Tonya Allard

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Tonya Allard Tonya Allard
Kyle Kriegl Kyle Kriegl

Arcadia (WQOW) - When floodwater hit the Arcadia community in July, a local volunteer was not the first to help, but she was certainly the last. August's Jefferson Award winner is Tonya Allard.

As floodwater rose in southeast Wisconsin in July, so did the need for help. Despite working two jobs, Red Cross volunteer Tonya Allard did not hesitate to heed the call.

"I have learned that it's not about us. It's about helping when disasters happen," Allard said.

Allard left for the Milwaukee area on Monday to aid those who saw the things they hold dear literally float away.

"It was heart wrenching, and that motivated me more to be there and to assist," Allard said.

Long hours and long days led Allard to seek a good night of sleep on Wednesday. "I actually turned off my phone," she said. What the Arcadia resident woke up to was a flood of messages.

"I had my mom, my significant other -- I had pictures. I had text messages. I had messages from our police chief and our fire chief," Allard said.

While Allard drifted off to sleep in Milwaukee, water filled her home and her hometown.

"I felt that I am a local volunteer, that this is my community, and at that point, I felt that that is where I needed to be," she said.

So, Allard headed home but not to her house. "I just went directly to our Red Cross shelter," she said.

After setting up the shelter, Allard returned to her own flooded home for two hours before returning right back to the shelter, where she stayed for the next 36 hours.

"I took care of all the evening duties and things like that and then I was there until Friday," Allard added.

As the floodwater receded, the need for help remained. Allard stayed on serving as the after-hours volunteer; that meant fielding late calls and even making house calls.

"My significant other and I went down the fire department and loaded everything up and went to their residences, and it just went throughout the week," Allard said. 

When all was said and done, Allard estimates she made 100 home deliveries all while dealing with flooding in her own home.

"Between our basement and our garage, I believe the total was about 11 inches," she said.

Kyle Kriegl, the executive director of the Red Cross Northwest Chapter, said he's not surprised to hear about Allard's selflessness.

"I know she felt personally that she was really helping make a difference," he said. "You know, she left one community in Wisconsin to help her own community, even though she was impacted herself, just shows the selfless dedication to be there and help. Just above and beyond," Kriegl said.

More than one month after the flood, a little sliver of normalcy for Allard returned, but she said she's always ready for the next call to service.

"I've always wanted to help the community and give back. That's what I love to do," she said.

Allard has only been a volunteer with the Red Cross for one year, but has already helped with floods, fires, as well as the tornado in Chetek. She said everyone can have an impact on their community if they just make the time to volunteer.

If you know a volunteer making a difference in your community, click here.

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