As Tropical Storm Bill moved across the country, one of the states that saw heavy flooding was Louisiana, where the Red River overflowed its banks, flooding various parishes throughout the state. The American Red Cross responded when the flooding occurred, and continues to help those affected.
As Red Cross workers help people recover, the flooding danger isn’t over. Officials say a second Red River crest could occur over the next several weeks. Since the flooding started, more than 180 Red Cross workers have opened numerous shelters, served thousands of meals and snacks, distributed hundreds of clean-up kits and comfort kits containing personal hygiene items and provided health services and emotional comfort.
One of the residents Red Cross workers are helping is Jeanette Pratt, who lost her home to the flooding. “I’m so thankful to have this chance to thank the Red Cross for taking such good care of me,” she said. “You know, the sheriff helped get me out of that flood, and brought me to the Red Cross shelter. He saved my life and so has the Red Cross.”
After these words of heartfelt thanks, a teary Pratt hugged Red Cross caseworker Sondra Frazier. The woman lost her home to flooding and the resulting mold. She described how she is alone because her family lives out of the area, and anxious about what is to come.
“You were all so nice, I felt like you had rolled the red carpet out, just for me,” Pratt continued tearfully.” I had a safe place to sleep. I had food and friendly faces.”
“It’s okay, we’re here for you,” Frazier said, comforting the woman.
“Ya’ll been like family to me, and I’ll never forget it,” Pratt said. “You took me in and treated me like your own family. I still can’t get over it. And here ya’ll are today, offering me more help. Friends have helped me out with clothes, and helped me with makeup. It sounds silly, but I still want to look like a lady.”
“No, not silly at all,” the Red Cross caseworker answered. “Fresh clothes, doing one’s hair and make-up, those are all things that help us feel a little more normal. It’s part of feeling whole again. It’s part of the journey to recovery.”
As Pratt gathered her meager belongings, she said, “I’ll never forget what the Red Cross did for me – never. I promise. I love you all. You’re such a blessing.”
“Part of what we do here,” Frazier explains, “is just listening with an open ear and a loving heart. These folks need to have an opportunity to vent their frustrations, and share their story. They all have a story to tell. In sharing their stories with us, it helps them start that journey to recovery. This is why I’m here. This is our mission.”