Red Cross Assisting Victims of Tornadoes, Flooding, Winter Storms
The American Red Cross has launched a massive relief response across numerous states following deadly storms that moved in during the Christmas holiday.
Here in Louisiana, about a dozen homes have reported damage from storms that hit the area Sunday night into Monday morning. Red Cross volunteers in Louisiana have been helping those families and cordinating with emergency preparedness officials, as well as sending support personnel to Texas and Mississippi.
"We actually have some of our local volunteers who are still stationed in Louisiana, but they are helping out in other areas," said Red Cross of North Louisiana Executive Director Michelle Davison. "We have what we call virtual deployments, which means they're basically helping with a lot of back office things that have to get done in order for us to provide assistance, but don't necessarily have to be done on-site."
Davison said those volunteers are able to assist, and still get to spend time with their families during the holidays. They're doing things like activating client assistance cards and putting in casework. A south Louisiana volunteer is in Texas supporting health services. The other five team members, including two from Alexandria and two from Shreveport, have been virtually supporting services to families in Mississippi.
Davison said Texas and Mississippi initially got the strongest hit by last weekend's storm system. A little over three dozen people died in those two states during the storms. Now, focus has shifted to flood relief in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.
More than 1,100 homes have been damaged across the affected areas and the number could increase. Hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster workers left their loved ones and homes over the holiday and opened shelters for those affected, providing meals, distributing comfort kits and clean-up supplies and meeting with families to help them plan their next steps.
Red Cross officials say the storm is expected to continue to affect people over the next several days with flash flooding, heavy snow, ice and freezing rain. The agency urges people in the path of these storms to get ready now.
Davison said there are a couple of ways we can help with the relief efforts. Monetary donations are always needed. You can make your donation online on the Red Cross' website. You can also call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Voluteers are always needed, too. Davison said whether you can help out one hour a week, or a whole week at a time, she'll take you. The Red Cross website has information about disaster training, as well.