The American Red Cross is helping people in South Carolina as they begin to clean up after the recent devastating flooding.
Estimates show that thousands of homes have been affected by the flooding. Some communities are still under evacuation orders. Many residents still are under water boil advisories. As many as 328 roads and bridges in the state remain closed.
More than 300 people spent Sunday night in 15 Red Cross and community shelters in South Carolina.
The flooding has impacted thousands of people in the Palmetto State. Here are a few of their stories:
TRAVELERS STRANDED Florida residents Taylor Dieguez and her husband, Al, were heading home from a wedding. As they passed through Georgetown, South Carolina, flash flooding surrounded their car. Before they knew it, their rental car was stalled in the midst of flood waters.
“The water came up so quickly. I was freaking out, Mrs. Dieguez said. “When I opened the door, water came rushing into the car, and when I stepped out it came up over my knees. By the time my husband got out of the car, it was really high.”
The couple were rescued by the local fire department and transported to the Red Cross Shelter in Georgetown by ambulance. Neither of them was injured by their ordeal. At the shelter they received a warm reception from shelter workers, along with Red Cross blankets, food and water, and the option to stay the night. They were trying to find a replacement rental car, which are very scarce due to the torrential flooding the state has experienced.
WOMAN LOSES HOME Eva Gadsen, 72, Columbia, South Carolina, volunteered after Hurricane Katrina submerged houses in New Orleans and other areas a decade ago. Now she is dealing with the massive flooding that destroyed her home and placed her in a Red Cross shelter for five days.
“If it wasn’t for Red Cross, I really don’t know what would happen here,” she said.
She received help for her blood pressure in addition to other assistance at the Red Cross shelter at St. Mathew’s Middle School. Expecting to move in with one of her five children, Eva is looking ahead to starting over as the Columbia area starts its recovery.
FROM PERSONAL TRAGEDY TO VOLUNTEER Patricia Clark gives back as a Red Cross shelter volunteer after dark days of personal loss. The Gulfport, Mississippi, resident lost her daughter in 1988 to illness. Her grief nearly incapacitated her until she started volunteering at a Red Cross blood donation site on Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi. The site manager took Clark under her wing and gave her something to focus on other than her grief. She later moved away when her Navy husband was transferred overseas.
A second tragedy hit Clark and her family after they returned. In 2005, her family lost their home and just about everything they owned to Hurricane Katrina. A Red Cross volunteer found her. “That woman said she’d been told I needed food,” she said. “She took me to the store.” The paths of Red Cross and Clark crossed again and she began working as a caseworker in her home Red Cross chapter in Biloxi.
In South Carolina, Clark is assigned to one of the shelters housing people displaced from the flood, keeping busy with everything from greeting late-night arrivals, to holding a frightened child. For her, the long hours and sometimes hard work at the shelter is all worth it. “Meeting people and listening to their story and telling them it’s going to be all right - I want to let them know they can make it,” she said.
WHAT YOU CAN DO The Red Cross depends on the continued support of the public to help people affected by disasters big and small. People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
It’s a good idea to download the free Red Cross Emergency App to get emergency alerts, find out where shelters are and have flooding safety information immediately available. The app can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. Download the Red Cross Monster Guard App to teach children what to do in case of a flood or other disaster. Flood safety information is available here.