Midwest Flooding: ‘I Saw My Garage Float By’
Red Cross volunteer Mary Brod comforts flood victim Dennis Schweiger during his visit to the Multi-Agency Resource Center in West Plains, Missouri. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)
Hundreds of people in Missouri and Arkansas have lost everything they own after floodwaters inundated their homes. The American Red Cross is there, helping those affected as the risk of more severe weather threatens.
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ONE MAN’S STORY
When the water started rising, Dennis Schweiger really wasn’t worried until his wife called from work and told him the area around her was flooding. He was going to pick her up, but when he stepped on the front porch of his West Plains, Missouri home, he saw the swift moving rising water engulfing his front yard. That’s when he started worrying.
“While I was standing on the porch, I saw my garage float by with my Corvette in it,” Schweiger recalled. “I held my dog because if I had put him down he would have been a goner.”
After the water went down, Schweiger heard about a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) at the civic center with the Red Cross and some 20 partner agencies there to help those recovering from the flood. It’s one of some 18 scheduled to operate in the flooded areas of the state. At a MARC, various agencies gather in one location to help people.
“It makes it so much simpler for people who have been through all this turmoil. They really can walk out of here with peace of mind,” he said.
One of the first stops for Schweiger was the Red Cross where he met volunteer Les Orser of Grand Junction, Colorado, who specializes in disaster counseling. Orser explained recovering from a disaster can be difficult and often it helps to talk to someone who can put things in perspective. He advises people to concentrate on what needs to be done that day rather than focusing on the overall problem.
Schweiger also talked to Red Cross caseworkers to get an idea of what they could do help him in his recovery, a long process that will include major interior repairs to the double-wide mobile home. Red Cross caseworker Mary Brod of Richmond, Virginia, told him he was eligible for financial assistance after a Red Cross damage assessment team had checked out his home while he was making the rounds at the MARC.
When his journey around the circle of assistance was completed, Schweiger stepped outside where he was met by other Red Cross volunteers offering items such as rakes, shovels, storage bins, clean up kits from the Salvation Army and even dog food. “I got more help than I really expected and I’m sure there will be more to come,” he said with a smile.
ALL THEIR BELONGINGS NOW WET AND MUDDY
Ashley Crow struggled to find the words to tell her story as tears rolled down her cheeks. Three generations of household items were ruined by the floodwaters. Everything she and her family owned, soaking wet and muddy, were piled up at the end of the driveway.
As we spoke with Crow, a neighbor handed her grandmother a family picture she found in a nearby mud puddle. “You have no idea how precious this is to me,” Crow sobbed. “I have very little to remember them by.”
Crow and her family were told to immediately evacuate their home on May 1 in Pocahontas, Arkansas as the flood waters began to rapidly rise. They grabbed a few items and sought shelter in the home of a friend. When they were finally able to safely return home on Friday, May 5, they were shocked to see their home and all of their belongings covered in mud and water.
“We are very thankful that the American Red Cross has been bringing us cold water and snacks as we clean this all up. Volunteers also encouraged us to go to the community shelter for our meals. The food was very good and given to us at no cost. It was so nice to be able to sit down to a nice hot meal and rest for a few minutes.”
RED CROSS HELPING
The Red Cross is providing food, shelter, health and mental health services, relief items and working with local and state officials to ensure people get the help they need. Red Cross caseworkers are beginning to connect one-on-one with families now to create recovery plans and access additional support.
If someone needs to find a shelter, they can visit redcross.org, check the Red Cross Emergency App or call 1-800-768-8048.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.