The tornadoes in Massachusetts this week and flooding in the Northwest increases the total American Red Cross disaster operations up to 40 in 27 different states during this extremely active spring storm season.
Floods, deadly tornadoes and wildfires have hit more than half of the United States in the past few months, forcing thousands of people from their homes. The Red Cross has opened shelters, prepared and distributed meals and offered emotional support as those affected begin moving forward with their lives.
When residents of the Crow Indian Reservation in Southeastern Montana fled their homes because of the raging fury of the Little Bighorn River overflowing its banks, more than 300 of the evacuees came to a Red Cross shelter in Billings, some 80 miles from their home.
About 100 of those residents were children, and shelter manager Jeanne Sternbergh and mental health volunteer Susan Rangitsch thought it would help the children if a ‘Kiddie’ Center became part of the shelter. They recruited volunteers Marty Healy and Gloria Eisenman, both trained shelter supervisors, to make it happen.
Healy admitted being a bit apprehensive about coordinating activities for so many children at the Red Cross shelter.
“I do this with my grandchildren, but didn’t expect to do it here,” he said. “But I found enough Red Cross people with ideas on games and activities to put together a program.”
As many as 50 children from age two to 12 attend the activities, some accompanied by their parents, Healy said. Eisenman made hand puppets and puts on puppet shows. The kids have also enjoyed finger painting, blowing bubbles and bowling.
“The parents have grown to appreciate our efforts,” Healy said. “They trust us to take care of their children, treat them respectfully and keep them safe.”
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to get help to people affected by disasters like these. 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.