Missouri Red Cross personnel are responding to the devastating floods in Louisiana. So far, the relief group’s deployed 12 people and four emergency response vehicles from the state’s eastern region.
They’re helping to provide emergency shelter and meals for what the Red Cross is calling “the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy”.
David Griffith with the organization’s Jefferson City Chapter says, based on the amount of money it’s spending, the Red Cross has given the floods a “level 7” designation. “To show you how much more information that we’ve gotten, as of Sunday when they made it a level 7, we were estimating $10 million. Just in three days, it’s gone from that to at least $30 million. And that number could grow, the more we learn about the scope and magnitude of the devastation that’s been done there.”
By comparison, last winter’s floods in St. Louis reached a level 4 designation. The Joplin tornado was a level 5.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Louisiana officials’ estimated as many as 25,000 homes may have been damaged, affecting as many as 75,000 people. Griffith notes mental health professionals are also there to support people with devastating losses. “That mental health side of it, those volunteers we have, are really key to that recovery process.”
11,000 people stayed in Louisiana Red Cross shelters Tuesday night.
The eastern Missouri Red Cross is also assisting people who can’t get to shelters or won’t leave their homes. It’s sent three emergency response vehicles equipped with mobile feeding units which can each serve 1,300 people. The vehicles have loudspeakers to inform residents of their arrival.
The Red Cross typically provides safety-net services at the beginning of disasters before a partner agency such as the United Way steps in to handle long term aid. But Griffith says the group will stay as long as it takes to help people initially get back on their feet, whether its weeks or months.