It’s Saturday afternoon and I realize that many of you may not read this email until Monday. However, the American Red Cross is working 24/7 to help those affected from the Louisiana Floods. Thank you to those who have already stepped up and provided financial gifts, in-kind donations, and/or volunteered your time. This is the most significant disaster since Superstorm Sandy! The Red Cross has mounted a massive relief operation to help individuals and families in great need. To date, more than 1,400 Red Cross workers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are supporting relief efforts.
A long email update will now take a back seat to a short video that I encourage all of you to watch. The following video link sums up why we do what we do and why we desperately need your help!
“Our volunteers are tirelessly working around the clock to help thousands of people in Louisiana,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Right now we are concentrating on providing food, shelter and relief supplies. But with thousands of homes affected, our work is just getting started. We’ll be there for the long run to help people recover from this historic disaster.”
One week after devastating flooding wreaked havoc over much of Louisiana, more than 3,100 area residents remained in 20 disaster relief shelters on Friday night. More than 1,400 American Red Cross volunteers and staff are working within impacted communities to operate shelters, serve meals and provide lifesaving relief to thousands who have lost so much in the floods. The Red Cross has mobilized 60 emergency response vehicles (ERVs) and more than two dozen trailer loads of shelter and kitchen supplies. Early estimates are that it will cost the Red Cross $30M and we are far from receiving adequate funds to cover the costs.
Last week’s slow-moving, low-pressure storm system dumped between 24 and 31 inches of rain – some 6.9 trillion gallons of water – on parts of Louisiana; rainfall hit historic levels in some portions of the state. The death toll from the flooding has reached 13 people, and about 30,000 people have been rescued form the floods. At least 40,000 homes have been damaged, and more than 85,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid with FEMA.
Significant river flooding will persist through the weekend across portions of southern Louisiana. Major flooding will primarily be focused along portions of the Mermentau and Vermilion Rivers, along with moderate flooding that will continue along the Amite and Calcasieu. Floodwaters have been slow to recede because waterways are filled and the ground was already saturated in one of the wettest years on record.
Great swaths of Baton Rouge have dried out, with some businesses re-opening and services running. But to paint a picture of the deluge, residents and relief workers say the smell of rotting fish has become overpowering, and curbs are lined with ruined furniture, clothing and possessions that were extracted from flooded homes. Red Cross disaster teams are circulating hardest hit areas to serve meals, snacks, water and relief supplies to people mucking out their homes. Some of these relief supplies include personal hygiene items, insect repellant, cleaning kits and bleach.
Your support helps cover the costs of providing food, shelter, blankets, cots, emotional support, health services, initial casework and relief supplies. It also includes some of the less visible costs that make relief possible including logistics, staff and technology expenses. These floods have uprooted lives, destroyed homes and left thousands with nothing but the few items they were able to escape with. The Red Cross will remain in impacted communities in the weeks and months to come to provide help and the resources residents need to return to a sense of normalcy.
Videos, Blogs and Stories
“A Place to Go When There is No Place to Go” (video) – August 20, 2016
Louisiana Flooding: Red Cross Helps Thousands – August 19, 2016
Red Cross Work in Louisiana Just Beginning – August 19, 2016
Jill’s Story from the Louisiana Floods (video) – August 19, 2016
Mark Baker | Major Gifts Officer