The American Red Cross is helping at least 4,700 people in dozens of emergency shelters in Louisiana after unprecedented flooding has left 15 rivers in record flood stage.
Five volunteers from the Western and Central New York Region are assisting, with four being deployed to the impacted area and one volunteer working virtually. From Central New York, John Aldasch of Canastota and Harry Dashnau of Baldwinsville are traveling to Louisiana to assist with sheltering, while Frank VanSickle of Cortland is providing client casework services virtually. From the Greater Rochester Chapter, Sarah Perkins of Pittsford is in Louisiana for disaster assessment. From Western New York, Diane Sargent of Lockport is deployed to the area to assist with bulk distribution of relief supplies.
“This is an extremely chaotic situation right now, with life-threatening flood waters, power outages and road closures complicating relief efforts – as many local volunteers have also been directly affected by the flooding,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “This is by far our largest sheltering effort in Louisiana since Hurricane Isaac, and the bulk of this staggering devastation is in areas that typically don’t experience flooding. The Red Cross is mobilizing a massive relief effort which could be our largest since Hurricane Sandy.”
Thousands of people have been forced from their homes with little but the clothes on their backs. Red Cross disaster volunteers are opening shelters, providing meals and comfort. Additional volunteers, relief supplies and emergency response vehicles are moving toward Louisiana now to bolster response efforts.
“Our work is just beginning, and we will be on the ground for weeks helping people in Louisiana pick up the pieces,” continued Kieserman. “Entire families have lost their homes and everything they own, please join the Red Cross in supporting Louisiana by making a much needed financial donation today.” Flooding is expected to continue for several days, and once waters recede it will take some time to fully uncover the extent of the devastation. The Red Cross will be working closely partners in the days ahead to ensure people receive the help they need as quickly as possible. Flooding is also threatening communities in Mississippi, where Red Cross volunteers provided safe refuge to nearly 70 people Saturday night.