Finding Safety and Solace from Isaac at Red Cross Shelters

Finding Safety and Solace at Red Cross Shelters
We're thankful to the Red Cross for opening this shelter again so our family can stay safe

The American Red Cross is providing help and comfort for people who are confronted by flooding, power outages, tornadoes and high temperatures as Isaac moves into the Midwest.

The extensive relief effort includes food, shelter, relief and clean-up supplies and comfort for people, and the Red Cross will be in the Gulf region for weeks helping people get back on their feet.

With the floodwaters in the Gulf states receding and roads reopening, the Red Cross is going into more and more communities every day. More than 3,400 trained Red Cross disaster workers are providing emotional support, food, water and supplies like clean up and personal hygiene items, coolers, shovels, rakes, tarps, gloves and masks to people in need.

The Red Cross has served more than 62,000 meals and snacks; and we’ll be serving thousands more in the coming days working in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention. As of Friday night, The Red Cross had handed out nearly 10,000 relief items and provided more than 3,000 health services and mental health contacts. 

Shelter from the Storm

More than 1,400 people stayed Friday night in 35 Red Cross or community shelters across four states, with most of the shelter populations concentrated in Louisiana and Mississippi.

In Mississippi, three generations of the McCraw family called the Red Cross shelter at Vancleave High School home during Isaac’s onslaught. The McCraw family lives in a low-lying area prone to flooding and is thankful to the Red Cross for opening the shelter.

"I need to be here with my family,” said Melissa Brooks, who is the daughter of James McCraw. We're thankful to the Red Cross for opening this shelter again so our family can stay safe."

Sadly, the shelter had a familiar feel to the Jackson County residents, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina during the exact same week in 2005.

"Seven years ago, we lost our home to Hurricane Katrina when a tree fell on it and we lived here, in this very same shelter, for three weeks," Brooks said. Eventually, they were able to move back to the family property and start over.

In the small town of Pearl River, La., the Red Cross provided shelter for families and individuals from nearby Slidell where major flooding has submerged much of their community.

The severe flooding shocked Cassandra Batiste and her family, who went to sleep in their Slidell home to awake around 4:00 a.m. to water up to their ankles in the first floor of their townhome. By the time the emergency boat arrived with local police, the water was 4 feet high. 

"About three days ago, I was furious at my fiancee for backing into a pole and scratching my baby, my Mustang. As we were pulling away in the police boat, it was completely underwater," Batiste said. "It puts everything in perspective. A car is just a car." 

The family moved to Slidell only two months ago. Earlier in the week, Cassandra and her family were packed to evacuate to a family member's home in Alexandria, La. After listening to weather reports and local officials discussing the situation, they decided to ride out the storm.

"I've never experienced this before," she said. "I’ve always been the person on the other end, watching TV and seeing this happen to other people. Losing everything and not knowing where to start, it's horrible, a horrible feeling." 


As families are able to leave the shelters and return home, the Red Cross wants them to be safe and has some steps they should follow:

  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it’s safe.
  • Continue listening to media reports for the latest updates on the storm and be on the watch for more rain and flooding.
  • Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building that has water around it.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW. The Red Cross estimates that relief services for Isaac could cost as much as tens of millions of dollars – and its costs are growing by the hour. To donate, people can visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.