The American Red Cross has shelters set up in Minot and Burlington, North Dakota, to provide safe refuge for residents who have been ordered to evacuate from their neighborhoods along the Souris River, which is expected to overflow its banks as early as Thursday.
The evacuation orders affect as many as 12,000 residents who have been ordered to leave their homes by early this evening to remain safe as the river overtakes their community. More than 50 people spent Tuesday night in the shelters and many more are expected today.
The Mid-Dakota Red Cross Chapter has shelters set up on the north and south side of the city, with another in Burlington. Additional shelters are on standby in Bismarck if needed. Health and Safety Director Diane Chilson said the Red Cross will be providing meals every day for evacuees, adding that the shelters will be open for the duration of the emergency in Minot. “We don’t have a firm number yet of people staying at the shelter, but expect that number to rise sharply tonight when all people must be out of the evacuation zones,” she said.
The Red Cross has pre-positioned supplies such as cots, blankets, meals and comfort items in the Minot area for what could be an extended relief operation. Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, with the North Dakota National Guard, reported that the flooding will impact communities up and down the Souris River and could continue to cause problems for residents until mid-July.
Flooding is also causing problems in the Missouri River Basin and Tennessee where heavy rainfall is contributing to the swollen rivers. The Red Cross has shelters open in Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Tennessee and South Dakota.
In other states, extremely dry conditions continue to feed huge wildfires, which are consuming thousands of acres in Arizona, New Mexico, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, California, Alaska and Colorado. Red Cross shelters are open in Arizona and Texas and workers are distributing food and drinks to firefighters and first responders.
The devastating spring weather, which brought deadly tornadoes, historic floods and dangerous wildfires to the United States, 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.