The flooding in Louisiana is likely the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy and American Red Cross disaster volunteers are providing shelter, food, and comfort to families who have lost everything. More than 40 Red Crossers from South Carolina, including Louise Welch Williams, the regional CEO, have deployed to the Baton Rouge area. An additional eight volunteers are deployed virtually to assist with the response. More volunteers will be leaving in the coming days.
Thousands of people have been forced from their homes with little but the clothes on their backs. Sunday night more than 10,600 people sought refuge in nearly 50 Red Cross and community shelters in Louisiana. Many local Red Cross volunteers have also been affected by the flooding and hundreds of community members are being trained by the Red Cross right now to support their neighbors during this challenging time.
“Here in South Carolina we have experienced devastating flooding, and many of us know someone who was affected by the floods last October,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross. “When we were asked to help with this massive relief effort in Louisiana, our volunteers and staff immediately stepped up to do whatever is needed, both now and in the weeks ahead, helping people in Louisiana pick up the pieces.
The situation in Louisiana is extremely chaotic and gaining access to many areas is difficult due to flooding and numerous road closures. In addition, power and phone outages are complicating relief efforts. Local officials have reported making more than 20,000 water rescues, and are estimating that 10,000 homes have been damaged. Many areas are still inaccessible.
“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,” explained Williams. “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.”
The flooding danger is not over as weather experts predict more rain is possible. The Red Cross will be working closely with 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.
VOLUNTEERING It has been a very busy year for disasters with thousands of volunteers deploying to support people in need. The time and talent of every volunteer makes a real difference in people’s lives. Those interested in volunteering should visit www.redcross.org/sc today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.
HOW TO HELP Those who would like to help people affected by disasters like the flooding in Louisiana and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, sending a donation to the American Red Cross, 2424 City Hall Lane, North Charleston, SC 29406, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding, hurricanes, and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.