During a large disaster like the flooding in the south, the American Red Cross relies on local partners to help deliver relief services quickly to ensure people get the immediate support they need – shelter, food and water, a place to clean up, a shoulder to lean on.
In North Charleston, a church and local businesses, nonprofit organizations and neighbors are working together to help during the flooding. Here is the story of a community helping their neighbors:
One man wanted dry socks. A family of five needed food and shelter.
The Rev. Wendy Hudson-Jacoby, North Charleston United Methodist Church, responded to these needs, partnering with the Red Cross, the City of North Charleston, and others. “This isn’t our building,” Hudson-Jacoby said. “It’s God’s building, to be used for the community.”
“On Friday night the Red Cross called and said they might need our facility for flood victims. They called back at 10 and said how soon could somebody be there?” Hudson-Jacoby recalled. “I said, we’ll have the door unlocked in five minutes. At 10:30 the first wave of Red Cross folks arrived and by 11 we were up and running.” The shelter served about two dozen people.
“Some came in with trash bags full of clothes that were wet. That was all they had.,” the pastor said. “One man came in wearing soaked pants and flipflops and said, ‘Everything I had was washed away.’ Some people came in and asked for dry socks. One man said, ‘What I really need is a shower.’ We don’t have a shower here but I said, we will get you a shower. A family came in that had been flooded out of a trailer park and they had a couple dolls for their children. Some folks had lost medicine. Some had lost eyeglasses.”
The partnerships went to work. The city’s parks and recreation director opened the recreation center to provide showers. He sent a bus to transport people to the center. The church’s bathroom facilities backed up and the city set up a port-o-potty city outside the building.
Besides the city, partnerships included congregation members, social media users, neighbors in Park Circle, families of school friends, and local businesses. “I called one of our local businesses and said if you have anything that might perish we’d love to have it. They brought food and stayed to cook it. A church member came in and cooked dinner and came back to do lunch and dinner. Other businesses brought bananas and pastries, a case of bacon, scrambled eggs and tortillas for breakfast burritos. The Lowcountry Food Bank delivered food.”
Neighborhood moms brought art supplies for the children. “A random couple drove by yesterday and said, what do you need,” Hudson Jacoby reported. “I said folks are going to take showers. We have no towels. They said OK, got in their car and came back an hour later with bags full of towels.”
SAFETY INFORMATION AVAILABLE As people struggle through this already difficult time, weather experts say flooding in the area is not yet over as rivers continue to overflow their banks. The flooding has already destroyed homes and businesses and damaged water and sewer treatment plants which has resulted in a concern about safe water for people to use. Thousands of people are also without power. The Red Cross has overall flood safety and power outage information available here.
HOW TO HELP Red Cross workers are also helping people affected by other large disasters such as the wildfires in California. The Red Cross is supporting the families of the seamen aboard the cargo ship El Faro which sank during Hurricane Joaquin last week. In Oregon, volunteers are providing mental health support to residents and assistance at community events after last week’s tragic school shooting.
People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to support disasters big and small. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 26902, Lehigh Valley, PA 18002-6902.