As floodwaters continue to inundate parts of the Midwest and Tennessee Valley, the American Red Cross is a refuge for many families who have had to leave their homes.
In hard-hit Missouri, the Red Cross is providing shelter and food for families affected by last week’s floods, as well as helping them take the first steps toward recovery. Red Cross caseworkers began visiting families over the weekend to determine the best way to help them get permanent housing and back on their feet.
On Their Own, But Not Alone
One of these families is John and his daughter Bella, who are staying at the Red Cross shelter in Hollister. John is a single dad who has been raising his young daughter on his own since she was 3 months old. Bella is his world, and all that matters to him is making sure she has a safe place to grow up.
The floodwaters reached more than half the height of their mobile home, ruining it and leading the city of Hollister to declare it uninhabitable. John wonders what will happen to him and Bella now that they have no place to return to.
“It took me a long time to be able to provide that home to Bella, and now it’s all gone. She is all I have,” said John.
As John and Bella begin to work with the Red Cross casework team, they will be able to move forward to a new beginning and a new normal. Life will never be exactly as it was, but with the help of Red Cross and the community, he and Bella will not be homeless and lost.
“I don’t know what we would have done without the Red Cross and the kindness of this community,” said John as he rocked young Bella to sleep.
From Loss to Hope
When Joyce Parks, of Hollister, Mo., went to bed last Wednesday, she expected the thunder from the forecasted storms to wake her, but not her son’s panicked voice saying, “You need to get out of bed right now.”
Parks was surprised to look outside and see what appeared to be a lake in her front yard. She estimated the water level to be a foot deep, and could tell it was rising quickly.
Reacting on instinct alone, Parks quickly roused the remaining members of the household, including 5-year-old granddaughter Christina, and hurriedly ushered them to the highest point of their multilevel home.
Water began to seep through the front door, quickly turning into a gush. Within a few minutes the family found themselves knee-deep in water.
Parks heard a little voice exclaim, “Grandma, why are we in the lake?” as the couch lifted from the floor and began to float in the room. For the next hour Parks continued to calm her family and comfort her grandchild as the water rose to a few feet deep inside their home. Thankfully, almost as suddenly as the water had risen, it began to dissipate.
Shortly thereafter they were greeted by the sound of fire trucks coming to the rescue. Parks said this was the first of many small moments of relief. The firemen could take them to a safer place, but then what? Parks and her family did not have the financial means to move into another home, let alone the unknown amount of money it would take to obtain shelter, food and clothing in the interim.
The second, and much larger, wave of relief came shortly after getting to safety. The Red Cross had a shelter open and ready. Through partner programs with other community organizations such as The Salvation Army, they had food, clothing and even cleaning supplies to begin the long process of rebuilding and recovery. After their first night in the shelter, Parks now feels hope for recovery rather than loss and despair.
When asked what she thought of spending the night in the shelter, Christina exclaimed with a big grin, “It was fun! Just like camping with lots of people!”