A spring marked by several major disasters, including tornadoes, floods and wildfires, has now turned into a summer filled with more of the same—and with a predicted busy hurricane season on the horizon.
In New Mexico, a fast-moving wildfire has so far destroyed more than 43,000 acres. Approximately 7,500 residents within the affected area of Los Alamos County are now under a mandatory evacuation order.
The American Red Cross chapter in New Mexico opened two shelters on Monday and is working with the county and state emergency operations centers and other organizations to care for evacuated residents. More than 80 people were in the shelters on Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross continues to assist residents across the Midwest and North Dakota who have been hit by floods. Four Red Cross shelters are open in Nebraska and Iowa due to flooding along the Missouri River, and more are on standby in case they are needed. The Red Cross is also providing water and snacks to people hard at work sandbagging along the river, particularly in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The Red Cross has two shelters open in Minot, N.D., where nearly 200 people spent the night on Monday due to severe flooding of the Souris River. Since the flooding began, the Red Cross has provided more than 1,300 overnight stays in Minot area shelters.
Jean Shulze, 81, is staying at one of these Red Cross shelters. In fact, this is the second time this year she has been forced to leave her home because of floods. Shulze, like many other residents, had little time to pack up and get to higher ground.
"I filled up a suitcase with my best slacks and filled the trunk of my car with valuable papers, photos and my quilts," said Shulze. "I've made over 50 and I've given them away to friends and family except these few."
One she made for a grandchild that she's yet to give her. Shulze now calls the quilt "history in the making." "When my granddaughter is 90 years old she can remember that this is the quilt saved in the flood," she said.
In the Red Cross shelter, Shulze keeps her cot tidy with a few personal belongings tucked underneath. She's thankful for the Red Cross and her temporary home, but she doesn't know what will happen now.
"I'm still in shock. I'm 81 years old, and at my age, what can you do?" she said.
The Red Cross will be helping residents in Minot for weeks to come—providing shelter while the water remains high, and then helping families once the floods recede and they can return home.
How You Can Help
Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; you 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.