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Red Cross and Partners Help Flooding Victims

South Carolina Floods

A Southern Baptist Convention disaster relief kitchen volunteer stirs a steamy vat of barbecue that will be taken to flood victims in flooded areas of Columbia, SC. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

It brings joy to my heart to help people. This is a mission for me...

When it comes to helping people after a large disaster like the flooding in South Carolina, it takes teamwork. The American Red Cross works closely with the entire response community – federal, state, county and local agencies, other non-profit organizations, churches, area businesses and others – to help coordinate the relief effort and deliver services quickly.

Some of the national partners helping during the flooding response include Islamic Relief USA, NAACP, National Baptist Convention USA, United Way, Salvation Army, Centers for Independent Living and AmeriCorps.

For a long time, the Red Cross has been partnering with the Southern Baptist Convention disaster relief kitchen – yellow shirts and red vests joined to support those needing help. Working together, they provide hot meals to those struggling to recover from the flooding.

The day begins before sunrise with Southern Baptist volunteers starting the makings of the day’s lunch and dinner meals. In the Columbia, South Carolina area, about two dozen Southern Baptist volunteers, many from nearby Spartanburg, are busy producing some 3,000 lunch meals which on that day included barbecued pork and coleslaw. To see these volunteers in action, watch this video.

Steve Wise has been volunteering at disasters around the country with the Southern Baptists for about 15 years. This time, he’s in charge of a team of about 20 kitchen workers plus assorted local volunteers. “I believe it’s part of my responsibility to help my fellow man, especially in time of suffering,” he said. “It would be ridiculous not to take care of people in the next town.”

Louie Matthews stirred the barbecue with the rising steam enveloping him and his huge stirring paddle. “It brings joy to my heart to help people. This is a mission for me, it truly is,” he said.

With meals cooked and packed in insulated carriers, the Red Cross emergency response vehicles start lining up to load the meals, along with water and anything else needed for the day. Then they head out to their assigned areas.

Driving one of the vehicles is Ali Alami, a volunteer from the Washington, DC area. Alami said he enjoys knowing that he’s helping people by making make their day a bit better with hot food. At the first stop in the neighborhood, folks took a break from their clean-up chores to get something from the vehicle.

“Much appreciated, it really is,” said a man who picked up two meals and walked back to a house to help move water-soaked items to the growing curbside pile..

RED CROSS RESPONSE As many as 240 people spent Tuesday night in 9 Red Cross and community shelters in South Carolina where they can find a safe and dry place to sleep, food to eat, health services and emotional support. More than 800 Red Cross workers, 56 response vehicles and shelter supplies for 5,000 people have been mobilized for South Carolina.

The Red Cross is distributing comfort kits containing personal hygiene items as well as cleaning supplies such as tarps, flashlights, trash bags, shovels, rakes, bleach and work gloves. Red Cross caseworkers are meeting one-on-one with people to help them plan their recovery and connect them with resources.

Since the flooding began, the Red Cross has worked with community partners to:

  • Serve more than106,500 meals and snacks
  • Hand out more than 78,000 relief items
  • Provide more than 2,700 health and mental health services
  • HOW TO HELP 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.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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