There is no let-up in the deadly weather plaguing much of the country and the American Red Cross is responding all over the United States as floods, tornadoes and wildfires devastate communities.
More than 1,100 people spent Tuesday night in Red Cross shelters in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas as violent weather ripped through the South and Midwest for the second straight night. There were 45 tornado warnings in Arkansas in 24 hours.
In Missouri, 370 residents sought refuge in Red Cross shelters after about 1,000 homes were evacuated in the town of Poplar Bluff due to flooding from the Black River. Two weeks after tornadoes devastated parts of North Carolina, more than 200 people are still staying in Red Cross shelters, their homes destroyed and all their belongings scattered.
The Red Cross is responding to flooding and tornado damage across more than half of the country as the severe weather continues. Since April 8, the Red Cross has opened more than 40 shelters and provided more than 3,000 overnight stays. In addition, with community partners, the Red Cross has served nearly 250,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 22,000 items like clean-up supplies and comfort kits to people in the affected areas. Red Cross mental health and health services workers have provided thousands of consultations to people coping with the aftermath of these disasters.
Weather experts reported the severe weather will continue Wednesday with showers and severe thunderstorms across the Tennessee and Ohio valleys. Western Texas, where wildfires have scorched over a million acres, is one of the few areas which won’t receive precipitation.
One woman who is lucky to have lived through a tornado is Cindy Busick of Sanford, NC, who flew the length of a football field in her bathtub when a tornado lifted her house and splintered it across her rural neighborhood.
“People have found our documents 70 miles away,” said Cindy. “When I landed, I thought I was in a different town. I was in the air for what seemed like forever and with my stuff flying 70 miles away, I thought I’d be with them.”
Her husband, Kevin, was working in Africa when the tornado hit Sanford. . Amazingly, among all of the debris, Kevin was able to find his wedding band. The only other salvageable belongings from their 4,500 square-foot house are now stored in a small storage pod.
After the tornado, Cindy only had one pair of jogging pants, a tee shirt, some underwear and a pair of slippers. She met with American Red Cross caseworkers who were able to provide emergency assistance for food and clothing. “Look at me… I’ve got shoes on!” she said.
The Busick’s neighbors pulled Cindy from the debris after the tornado. To repay their kindness, Cindy and Kevin gave them a car and a truck that were no longer primary vehicles for their family. “You just have to pay it forward,” Cindy said. “We’ve always given to this or that, and now look at us—we have nothing—and we are getting all this help from the Red Cross and other organizations,” she said. “We’ll give again once we’re able.”
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters like wildfires, floods and tornadoes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.