The American Red Cross is on the ground helping across four states where thousands of people have been forced from their homes by floodwaters, many leaving with little but the clothes on their backs. Preliminary reports indicate that more than 1,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged across Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas.
More than 380 people spent Sunday night in 30 Red Cross and community shelters in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. Hundreds of Red Cross workers are operating shelters and providing meals, relief supplies and health and mental health services. In many areas, roads and bridges are closed and thousands have been left without power. All four states are expected to see major flood crests through the week and the Red Cross is coordinating closely with state and local officials to ensure people get the help they need.
“Entire families, young and old alike, have lost their homes and everything they own in this flooding. We are providing shelter and food right now, and we’ll continue to support anyone in need as the water recedes and they begin to plan their next steps,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Our work is really just beginning, and we need financial support from the public to continue helping residents recover from this devastating situation.”
Louisiana is under a statewide emergency. Overnight there were 16 Red Cross and community shelters open with more than 250 residents taking refuge in them. This is the largest sheltering operation for the Red Cross in Louisiana since Hurricane Gustav and Ike in 2008, and Hurricane Isaac in 2012. As many as 12,000 people have been impacted by the flooding in the state with hundreds of residences either destroyed or receiving major damage.
Cynthia Ann Starr’s home in West Monroe, Louisiana, was flooded earlier this week. She arrived at a shelter with only her medication and a dry set of clothing. “It means so much to know that we have a safe place to stay and won’t have to sleep under the stars,” she said of the Red Cross shelter where she found refuge. “But, we can’t help to think about what comes next. How do we rebuild?”
In Mississippi, almost 30 people spent Sunday night in 5 Red Cross shelters and hundreds of homes were damaged by floodwaters. Floodwaters also swamped several counties along the Gulf Coast in Texas where almost 90 people took refuge in shelters. In Arkansas, strong storms damaged homes and downed power lines. Red Cross responders will be helping with shelter, meals, relief supplies and health and mental health services.
HOW TO HELP Those who would like to help people affected by disasters like flooding and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, 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.
FLOODING SAFETY INFORMATION With the threat of more flooding in the region, the Red Cross has steps people should follow to remain safe:
1. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and heed evacuation orders when given. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
2. Stay away from floodwaters.
3. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
4. Keep children out of the water.
5. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP With the threat of more severe weather, people should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding 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.