The American Red Cross is on the ground in Wisconsin and Minnesota where the rains have slowed down but rivers and streams continue to rise, forcing entire neighborhoods from their homes.
In Wisconsin, a 120-year-old sand levee along the Wisconsin River near Portage, Columbia County, is failing and could affect as many as 100 homes with more damage possible as the flood waters travel south. Residents in the area were urged to leave their homes immediately. The river crested over the weekend at almost 3.5 feet above flood level, putting major pressure on the levee system.
In Minnesota, some residents were allowed back in their homes only long enough to retrieve some belongings. Rivers and streams continue to rise. The high water has closed roads, destroyed bridges and damaged homes. In some areas, inspectors may begin checking out homes and businesses to determine if they are fit for residents to return.
Chapters in both states have opened shelters and are providing meals and comfort items such as toiletries to residents forced from their homes by the rising flood waters. The Red Cross is working with local and state officials in both Wisconsin and Minnesota to ensure help is available for those who need it.
If your neighborhood has been affected by flooding, the Red Cross has some steps you should take to remain safe:
- Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
- Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
- Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
- Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
- If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
- If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
- Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
For more information on what to do if flooding threatens your community, visit www.redcross.org.To make a financial donation to the Red Cross to help people affected by these disasters here in the United States and around the world, people can click, call or text - visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.