The Fourth of July weekend will have a different feeling to it in Minot, N.D., where many residents are spending their holiday in an American Red Cross shelter.
Floodwaters have forced as many as 12,000 people to leave their homes, and several hundred evacuees have looked to the Red Cross for a place to stay.
One of those is Tim Floyd, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who received three purple hearts during service to his country. Floyd said his home, and everything he owns, was destroyed, with water up to the roofline. He has been in the Red Cross shelter for more than a week and has been told it may be as long as two months before he can return to his neighborhood.
His dog, “Little Bear,” is in a pet shelter on the other side of Minot which is now difficult to get to due to the flooding. He said one of the Red Cross volunteers also helps at the pet shelter and has been visiting his dog.
“The Red Cross has been awesome,” he said. “If you need something, you just have to ask. If they can’t do it for you, they find someone who can. When this is over, I’m going to join the Red Cross.”
Red Cross volunteers away from home over holiday weekend.
Helping Tim Floyd and other shelter residents are Red Cross volunteers from across the country who will spend their holiday assisting others instead of being with their family.
Mike Meyer is a Red Cross volunteer from Mayville, Michigan who is helping run the shelter in Minot. Retired from the General Motors plant in Pontiac, Mich., he has been a busy volunteer in the last several months.
Another Red Cross volunteer in Minot is Thomas Borcherding, a GM retiree from Vassar, Mich., who has been a volunteer for three years. Borcherding has been overseeing the preparation and distribution of food in Minot and plans to be there helping for several weeks. When asked why he became a volunteer, he said, “You always see the Red Cross on the scene of disasters. I always wanted to do something, so I volunteered to help.”
“GM has been a long-time supporter of the American Red Cross,” said Vivian Pickard, President of the General Motors Foundation. “We are proud of our employees and former employees, like Mike Meyer and Thomas Borcherding, who generously give of their time, energy, and resources to aid communities impacted by disaster.”
Meyer has deployed to work on a disaster three times since the end of March, helping people in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Minneapolis, Minn., after tornadoes hit those cities, and now coming to the aid of the folks in Minot. Meyer has been a Red Cross volunteer for two years and plans to be in Minot for several weeks.
"I love helping people, I hate to see people in distress." he said. "You can't retire and sit home, you need to keep active."
In the past three months, there have been 42 large Red Cross relief operations in 29 states across the country. More than 13,000 Red Cross workers from all 50 states have deployed to these disaster areas, opening more than 270 shelters, providing nearly 37,000 overnight stays, serving millions of meals and distributing millions of relief items.
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.