Red Cross assists residents displaced by Twin Falls flooding

Red Cross assists residents displaced by Twin Falls flooding
Throughout the day, Diana said she was most impressed with the collaboration from other civic and emergency response agencies.

Diana Ochsner, a Red Cross Disaster Action Team coordinator for South-Central Idaho, is no stranger to disaster response.

In addition to her work on the DAT, Diana was the first volunteer on-scene at the Jerome fire that destroyed nine apartments in April 2013.

But when Twin Falls - a town of more than 45,000 - began flooding on August 6, Diana got the opportunity to experience the response from a different point of view.

Diana spent the day with Jackie Frey, director of Emergency Services for Twin Falls County, touring the community to identify potential hazards and assess needs as the water rose.

One home, Diana recalled, had an air conditioner running in six inches of water and motor oil leaking from the garage into a nearby horse pasture.

"We ran into that problem a lot, actually," she said.

You think about the water, but you don't think about the stuff in the water."

She also helped out the National Weather Service by taking photos of the varying amounts of flood water around town.

Throughout the day, Diana said she was most impressed with the collaboration from other civic and emergency response agencies.

"All day long, Jackie's phone would ring with calls from FEMA and Homeland Security and other counties offering mutual aid."

She also praised local waste disposal, power and irrigation agencies for their efforts throughout the ordeal.

"It would have been a lot worse," Diana said of the damage. "But they kept it from getting there."

Among the many agencies monitoring the flood activity was the Red Cross' own South-Central Idaho DAT. The volunteers helped arrange hotel accommodations for six Twin Falls families, most of whom were displaced not by flood water but by backed-up sewer systems.

One Red Cross volunteer, Harold Waggoner, postponed dealing with his own flooded basement to assist his neighbors in need.

Though the water receded as quickly as it arrived, the Red Cross staff and volunteers will work with community partners to address the needs of Twin Falls residents as the cleanup continues.