The American Red Cross responded as sirens wailed through Minot, North Dakota early yesterday afternoon, warning residents to get out of areas where swollen rivers are expected to cause catastrophic flooding in the community.
Up to 200 homes are estimated to be affected in Burlington and 4000 homes in Minot. More than 200 people spent Wednesday night in Red Cross shelters in Minot where Red Cross workers are providing sleeping accommodations, meals, health services and emotional support for those impacted by the flooding. Relief supplies have been pre-positioned on the north and south side of the river in case road access across Minot becomes impassible.
Red Cross volunteers from around the country are being deployed to assist with disaster relief efforts in North Dakota. Supplies such as cots, blankets, meals and comfort items were sent into the area previously to prepare for what could be an extended relief operation. According to FEMA, people could be out of their homes for as long as a month. The Mid-Dakota Red Cross Chapter has shelters set up in the city, with others on stand-by in nearby Burlington and Bismarck.
Across the country, flooding is impacting lives in Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, as well as in North Dakota. The Red Cross has shelters available in these states for those affected.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross is still sheltering residents in Arizona where a huge wildfire has burned almost 600,000 acres. Mark Weldon, Grand Canyon Chapter in Phoenix, reports the Red Cross shelter has become a place of refuge and fellowship. “The first thing I noticed was the attitude of the community: resilient,” he said. “I saw children laughing with their parents, townspeople making new friends, loved ones sharing a hug, and an overwhelming sense of peace. These people were comforted because of the help the community and the Red Cross is providing.”
Wildfires are also causing problems in New Mexico, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, California, Alaska, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Colorado. Red Cross shelters are open in Arizona, Texas and North Carolina to help people displaced by the fires.
The devastating weather of the last several months has affected more than half of the country. Since the end of March, the Red Cross has initiated 42 disaster relief operations in 29 states. More than 12,000 Red Cross workers have served millions of meals and snacks, provided tens of thousands of overnight stays in shelters, and distributed more than a million relief items like toothbrushes and shampoo, tarps, coolers, rakes and other cleanup supplies.
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.