Local nurse heading to cyclone-ravaged Bangladesh

Local nurse heading to cyclone-ravaged Bangladesh »Play Video
An unidentified villager is consoled by another after his daughter's body was recovered at Padma village in Barisal district of Bangladesh.
GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- Ann Johnson is gearing up for tragedy. The Gig Harbor nurse is a member of Bellevue-based Medical Teams International and is heading to Bangladesh to help people stricken by Cyclone Sidr.

The powerful storm killed more than 3,000 people and left millions destitute.

"I think we're going to go to the villages in boats and we're going to takes lots and lots of medicines with us so we can help them if they're sick," said Johnson, who will be away from her family during the holidays.

With many drinking water wells destroyed by the cyclone, the need for clean water was becoming critical to ward off cholera and severe diarrhea.

The government has pledged to feed millions of people, but since the Nov. 15 storm hit southwestern Bangladesh, officials and relief agencies have struggled to get desperately needed rice, drinking water and tents to remote villages cut off when rain and winds washed out roads.

The trip to Bangladesh will be Johnson's 11th disaster relief trip.

"I went to Mississippi after Katrina, I went to Banda Aceh, Sumatra after the tsunami, and I went to Java after the earthquake in Jojakarta," she says, listing a few of her trips.

Asked why she does it, Johnson replied, "Because it makes my life very interesting and very very rewarding."

On Friday she packed her relief bags with clothes and medical equipment.

She was supposed to be heading to Hawaii for a vacation with friends, but said she gladly gave up the trip for an opportunity to help others.