Torrential rain that inundated areas around Waynesville left a cloud of despair over the area, but the American Red Cross has been on the scene continuously to provide a ray of hope.
“Our volunteers always do so much more than what they’ve been trained to do,” said Phillip Iman, the Heart of America’s disaster coordinator who has been involved in securing volunteers to assist in the area. “Red Cross training gives volunteers the information they need to meet the physical needs of people and families affected by this flood and other types of disasters, but Red Cross volunteers go beyond that and are genuinely concerned about the emotional needs of those affected as well.”
Iman noted that the empathy volunteers have for Red Cross clients points to the character of the people who put on the agency’s red vest and give their time in services of those in need.
“It takes a special kind of person to do what our volunteers do,” Iman said. “This situation was not expected. Other kinds of storms, hurricanes, even tornadoes, can be predicted and give us some time to formulate a plan of action.
“This flash flooding was so sudden, but still when the call went out seeking volunteers many responded without hesitation.”
The chapter established a shelter at the St. Robert Community Center, 114 J.H. Williamson Dr. in St. Robert for residents forced from their homes by the floodwaters.
Trained volunteers from across the chapter have been staffing the shelter 24 hours a day. Teams have dispatched to the area to conduct damage assessment, which will play a part in determining future assistance for residents.
Experts in logistics are procuring food supplies to provide meals at the shelter and experienced volunteers are manning an emergency response vehicle to take meals to emergency workers and residents.
“Obviously this is not something we could do if we didn’t have dedicated volunteers,” Iman said.
The chapter also is receiving backup from Red Cross chapters in Springfield and St. Louis.
“We appreciate the assistance provided by our fellow chapters,” said Dave Griffith, Heart of Missouri Chapter executive director. “All three areas working together on this disaster provides a greater benefit to our clients.”
Flooding is not limited to Waynesville and Pulaski County. Other counties in South-Central Missouri are experiencing problems caused by rain.
“We are monitoring the situations in those counties and we are in contact with county emergency management directors in the affected areas,” Iman said. “If we are needed, we will respond.”
When excess water released from Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks flooded areas along the Osage River below the dam Wednesday, the chapter made arrangements to establish a shelter with a partner church in Lake Ozark.
“It turned out the shelter wasn’t needed, but we were ready nonetheless,” Iman said. “We would rather be ready than be caught off guard.”