The American Red Cross was among the first relief organizations allowed into Lyons, Colorado after floodwaters sent residents scurrying for safety.
Arriving in town, the Red Cross set up an Emergency Assistance Center where people could meet with nurses, counselors and caseworkers. They could also pick up cleaning items, rakes, shovels, tarps, water, buckets and gloves to use as they begin to work on their water-damaged homes.
Within a few hours, more than 100 people had picked up their supplies from the Red Cross vehicle parked in the center of town. They told stories of fortune and misfortune, often pausing to hug each other and shed some tears.
"I was lucky. My home is up away from the river here in Lyons,” said Mary Ann Milacek. “However, I have neighbors that lost everything. The night of the evacuation, I had all sorts of folks staying in my home because their homes were under water. We are pulling together to help each other and it is great to see the Red Cross here offering some outside assistance.”
Milacek spoke as she picked up cleanup supplies, including a pair of gloves. “You don't know how good it feels to get some assistance, until you really need it. This pair of gloves represents hope,” she said.
HIKING TO HELP A team of Red Cross workers found out recently that the road least traveled can be the one that gets you where you need to go when trying to help flood victims in Colorado.
Brenda Haney and Diana O’Neil, both of Madison, Wisconsin, arrived at Eldorado State Park to find out that only way they could get to the residents was to hike two miles uphill along pathways that were less than safe. They decided quickly - onward and upward.
After an hour of hiking, the pair found that the residents were surprised to see them. The first homeowner, Karen Burke, was busy removing her paneling, carpeting and furniture damaged or destroyed by the flooding. She introduced the volunteers to her neighbor, Mary Klinghammer and together all five went further up the hill.
They came to a section of road that had been entirely washed out with the other side reachable only by crossing a narrow shelf. The team proceeded with caution. Theirs was the first contact residents had with relief agencies since the flooding began.
The day after meeting with the residents, the Red Cross delivered water and blankets to the Eldorado Fire Department who used ATVs to get the supplies to Eldorado Park residents
LARGE RELIEF OPERATION More than 830 Red Cross workers are helping people in Colorado, providing food, shelter, relief supplies and emotional support. The Red Cross has provided a total of 3,800 shelter stays for people forced from their homes by the flooding.The Red Cross has served more than 87,000 meals and snacks working in conjunction with The Salvation Army, has handed out more than 111,000 relief items and provided more than 8,200 health and mental health services.
As residents start to go back home, the Red Cross is distributing relief items at Disaster Assistance Centers, Red Cross Emergency Aid Stations and aboard the 24 Red Cross emergency response vehicles traveling through the region. Red Cross workers are also providing individual recovery support, and health and mental health services.
In addition to The Salvation Army, the Red Cross is coordinating with a variety of local community organizations to provide relief in Colorado including Save the Children, AmeriCorps NCCC and Operation Hope.
HOW TO HELP If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.