Spring flooding continues to spread across the United States and the American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, relief supplies and emotional support to those affected.
In Tennessee, more than three inches of rain fell over the weekend in the greater Nashville area. Red Cross workers opened a shelter and distributed food and relief supplies throughout the area. Water levels are going down throughout the Midwest and the Red Cross is distributing food and relief supplies in affected communities as people start to return home. To the north, the Red Cross is providing food and refreshments as residents continue to put sandbags in place in Minnesota and North Dakota to keep waters from the Red and Souris rivers out of their neighborhoods.
PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE Small towns up and down the Illinois River are inundated with floodwaters and the Red Cross is helping people who have lost everything – people like Helen and R.J. Marshall of Chillicothe. “The house is gone,” she told a team of Red Crossers two days after the Illinois River reached its peak. “We’re homeless now. I don’t think we’ll be back.” Neighbors have been helping the couple remove and store some of their belongings, and Red Cross emergency response vehicles visit twice a day, bringing hot meals to the neighborhood. “It makes me so happy,” said she said. “Both the Red Cross and other neighbors, some of whom we had never met, were there to do what they could. It’s people helping people.”
GRATEFUL IN ILLINOIS Floodwaters have swamped Susan Carroll’s homes along the Illinois River in Chillicothe, Ill. “I’ve been through this before, in 2008 and 2009 we were also flooded,” Carroll said. “The two homes we own here were destroyed. We’ve been working to rebuild, and were just ready to move into the new one when the floodwaters started coming up. We’ve lived here for over 40 years and this is the worst flood to hit our area.” Seeing the Red Cross come into her community has been a comfort for Carroll. “They’ve been coming by all week and giving us hot food twice a day while we work to try to salvage what we can,” she said. “They have been great.”
SURROUNDED BY WATER Browning, Ill., is a small village of about 100 residents – many of them senior citizens - along the Illinois River which has been entirely surrounded by water, virtually cut off from everything. The post office and firehouse are flooded. A playground for the town’s children is under water. Red Cross workers met Pat Briney, a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. “I’m happy to see the Red Cross, but so sad for the people of this small town. The post office is flooded up to its windows.” Red Cross workers are in Browning, providing hot meals to residents of the village.
The Red Cross was in areas like Chillicothe and Browning before the flooding began and is there now providing food, shelter, relief supplies and emotional support for people who have been affected by floods. The organization will continue to be there long after the rivers return to their banks to provide home and comfort to those in need.
IF FLOODING THREATENS People should get their household ready now and build an emergency kit, including three days of supplies for everyone in the household.Water (one gallon per person per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents should go in every kit. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home. A variety of emergency preparedness kits, first aid kits and other supplies are available at www.redcrossstore.org.
When floodwaters threaten someone’s community, they should listen to local officials and be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground. People should stay away from floodwaters – whether walking or driving, they should turn around and go another way. Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood dangers and keep children out of the water.
Other steps people can take to stay safe should flooding threaten can be found on this web site. Flood safety tips are also available in the “Prepare for Emergencies” section of the Red Cross First Aid App available for direct download from the Appleor Google Play for Android app stores.
HOW TO HELP In the last ten years, the Red Cross has launched 127 large relief operations across 38 states to help people affected by flooding. These responses are costly and can last a long time as floodwaters have to go down before people can begin cleaning up their homes. If someone would like to help people affected by floods and other disasters, they can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.