The American Red Cross is making sure people have food and shelter after severe weather pounded away at much of the south and Midwest over the past few days. In addition, persistent wildfires continue to burn in Texas where flames have consumed more than a million acres.
In St. Louis, tornadoes damaged more than 750 homes and caused serious damage at the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport over the weekend. Thousands were left without power and natural gas. Red Cross disaster workers opened shelters, served meals, and handed out clean-up items such as tarps, shovels, rakes, gloves and duct tape.
More than 460 Texans spent the night in Red Cross shelters, some having lost their home to the wildfires, others forced to evacuate from their neighborhood because of the threat the fires pose. Red Cross emergency response vehicles are traveling throughout the affected area, distributing food and water as well as clean-up items.
The fact that it was Easter weekend was not lost on some Red Cross volunteers. In Sanford, N.C., Lee County Red Cross Chapter volunteers canvassed for donations and stuffed more than 100 Easter baskets to hand out to children who otherwise might not have had one after last week’s tornadoes.
“These families have dealt with so much devastation.” said Abby Cameron, Lee County Red Cross coordinator, “It is so wonderful to see the joy on the kids’ faces when they receive their baskets.”
Jennifer Finch knows the devastating feeling of losing your home to a tornado. Two years ago fierce winds destroyed her home. This time, her home was untouched. A teacher at East Wake Middle School in North Carolina, she knew some of her students weren’t as lucky and she decided to help them.
“Many of my former students lost or had severe damages to their homes,” she said. “These were the same students that were in my sixth grade class back when I lost everything two years ago. They provided me with emotional support then, and now it is time to be there for them.”
Finch, along with her fellow teachers and current sixth grade students, collected items to go into Easter baskets for students that were impacted by the tornadoes at her school and in the Wake County community. They delivered more than 100 baskets to children staying in shelters and to children throughout the affected community.
In the last two weeks, the Red Cross has responded to 46 disasters in 25 different states across the country, opening 34 shelters and providing more than 2,400 overnight stays. Red Cross disaster workers and community partners have served more than 184,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 15,000 items including clean-up and comfort kits.
How you can help
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to get help to people affected by disasters. Please consider making a donation today to help to those in need. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.