Several southern states have been hit with severe storms this month, and Red Crossers from around the nation are coming together to provide relief for thousands of residents affected by flooding and tornadoes. So far seven local volunteers from the Central California Region have been deployed to help. These are some of the stories of heartbreak and hope from the response.
As floodwaters entered the bathroom of Johnny Bradford’s Monroe, Louisiana home, he used a 5-gallon bucket to try to keep the water at bay, but after 35 buckets, he saw it would be unsafe to remain. He and his family were ultimately rescued and brought to a Red Cross shelter where they have been for nearly a week.
“The Red Cross has done so much for us. I wonder what’s going to happen when we leave here – how I’m going to find a place for all of us where we can be close,” said the father for four girls, including 9-month-old Jakenzie. “We’re safe, and we’re together now, though.”
Annias Baker, 78, has lived in the Monroe, Louisiana, home he shares with his sister for 30 years, and this is the first time it has flooded.
“The water was all the way up to the bed,” he said.
Baker and his sister evacuated to a Red Cross shelter nearly a week ago. Because health concerns make getting around difficult, Red Cross nurse Joan Nyitrai was able to provide him with a wheelchair to make his time away from home a little more comfortable.
Daurline Tanner used a dust pan and mop bucket to keep floodwaters from entering her living room, and her efforts paid off. While her favorite wool rug was ruined, she managed to save her furniture and more of her other belongings.
“My husband made us build the rest of our house up higher, but the living room is flat with the street,” she said, “That extra height saved almost everything.”
When Carroll Taylor saw the water rising in the backyard of her West Monroe, Louisiana home, she knew she had to leave. When she came back the next night, she found that about 6 inches of water had entered the living room of her home.
When the Red Cross came through her neighborhood, she had spent two days pulling carpeting out of home, bleaching her wall and cleaning the concrete floor below.
“I was mad at that this happened to me at first, but then I realized I was lucky,” she said. “I didn’t get it as bad as others – and I won’t need as much as others – but I’m so grateful that the Red Cross is here to help those who will need it.”
Cliff Winsor has lived by himself in his Rayville, Louisiana home since his wife’s passing in 2013. At 87, he’s lived through a lot, but this is the first time his home has flooded. Now he looks toward the future.
“At my age, it’s hard enough to think about what happens next after something like this,” he said with tears in his eyes, “but facing it alone without my wife makes it even harder.
Red Cross volunteers from around the nation will be helping residents in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas recover over the weeks to come.
If you want to help the Red Cross relief effort, it’s easy to make a donation. Simply call, click or text: 1-800-RED-CROSS, redcross.org, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999.