As the flood threat moves steadily and ominously down the Mississippi River, the American Red Cross and its community partners are preparing residents threatened by the rising waters.
Red Cross workers and community partner volunteers are going door to door in the Mississippi delta to share preparedness tips and flooding information. Spiritual care teams have also joined in to visit homes and provide emotional support to residents in threatened areas.
Emotional support may be especially critical in parts of Mississippi that have been hit with multiple disasters in the past year. Destructive tornadoes hit the state in April and November 2010, again this April, and now potentially historic floods lie ahead. To ensure the Red Cross is ready to meet the anticipated health and mental health needs in the region, it is working with partners in the Medical Reserve Corps and the National Black Nurses Association.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., recently added his voice to the Red Cross efforts to prepare Mississippi families for the floods by recording a radio Public Service Announcement, encouraging families to get ready.
“In the past few weeks, floods have devastated homes and destroyed lives,” Thompson stated. “While we can’t prevent floods, we can make sure our families are prepared.”
Additional volunteers are being trained to help in the disaster response. On Monday, the Red Cross conducted training for dozens of people from the National Baptist Convention on bulk distribution and community partnerships. Today, training in mass care, psychological first aid and community partnerships was held for approximately 30 members from the NAACP and AmeriCorps NCCC.
The Red Cross is also in consultation with partners from the Southern Baptist Convention, HOPE Worldwide, Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. and the NCCC to provide additional local resources to work with the hundreds of Red Cross volunteers in communities along the Mississippi.
To ensure there are safe, secure shelters for people evacuating from their homes, the Red Cross is also working with government and community partners throughout Mississippi and Louisiana. The Red Cross is prepared to shelter potentially thousands of people in the affected states. In addition, thousands of relief supplies—including cots, blankets and comfort kits—are ready when needed.
While these preparations ramp up in the Deep South, the Red Cross continues its relief operation in the Memphis area, where waters crested on Tuesday. More than a dozen Red Cross emergency response vehicles are traveling through neighborhoods to provide meals, snacks and information to affected residents, and five Red Cross shelters are open as well.
How You Can Help The Red Cross estimates that it will spend as much as $31 million responding to the disasters that have occurred over the past several weeks, all while initiating another large-scale relief operation to help people along the Mississippi River, which will add even more to this amount. The Red Cross has received $17.7 million in pledges and contributions for disaster relief since March 31 to support the current response in 18 states in the South, Midwest, and other parts of the U.S.
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters like wildfires, floods and tornadoes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, 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.