"Don't ever say it won't happen to you"
On New Year's Day Linda Thorne emerges from her home holding a doll. It's one of few personal belongings that survived water rushing through a levee on the Meramec River in Missouri. "Is this the wake up call? Yes, it's a wake up call. It's the worst bad dream that I've ever had," she says as she cries openly in front of her neighbors on Butler Court. Some lived high on the hill in their trailer homes. Others, like Linda, lived low, too low on the hill to escape with much else than their lives. And like so many people, she's relying on the Red Cross to keep her safe, warm and fed while she figures out her next step. Linda smiles and jokes a lot, which surprises the other residents at the shelter. "How can you? they ask. You've lost so much. I tell them we have a whole new year." Grateful for what she has and for what's coming--the birth of a her first great grandchild--Linda no longer denies that going back to live in her old home will be possible. During the coming days the Red Cross shelter will be her refuge. It's a safe haven, she says, allowing her to be the positive person she tends to be. "I want to thank the Red Cross from the bottom of my heart because if it wasn't for the Red Cross, I wouldn't have a place to go."