This is the first time I have had a chance to write an email to you all since I arrived in Atlanta. For those of you who don't know I am working on the Georgia flooding relief operation– there are more than 2300 families displaced as of the last count. We still have over 20 damage assessment teams and 26 outreach teams in the field.
I was assigned to come and help work with the partner agencies here – to help the communities know the assistance that is available and the partners know how we can work together. ... It is great to know that I will be leaving the Chapter with the possibility to continue these relationships.
The devastation is complete in some communities – and they have very diverse populations. One thing I did today was to meet with community groups at a local high school – hundreds in their families lost their homes and almost 200 are still in Red Cross shelters. They are so grateful for the assistance the Red Cross is providing. One lady hugged me and thanked me for coming not only to tell them what we are doing – but also for listening to their stories.
They told me that the day of the rains – as they fled from the rising waters someone from the Red Cross met them in the parking lot where they stood, wet, tired, cold and frightened as the waters continued to rise into the parking lot and they didn't know what to do. In the midst of that confusion, the Red Cross worker was able to move them to a local facility that was a food pantry that also provides used clothing. The workers there made sandwiches and found dry clothes and blankets for those who needed them. Then just as night fell – the Red Cross shelter was opened and everyone was moved to safety. Many of those families remain in the shelter tonight. As one lady said, "we don't know what we would have done without the Red Cross." That is so true – no one else mobilizes as we do to help immediately to provide food and shelter. I was so proud – and humbled too by the responsibility we have to provide that immediate relief.
Yesterday, damage assessment teams found a mobile home park with130 mobile homes destroyed. The population there was Hispanic – and they had not heard where or how to get help. They were staying with friends, on the floor of a local church, even in some trailers that were only partially destroyed. Many of those displaced were children. Tonight those children and their families as safe, and warm and dry – and not hungry – because of people like you. Tomorrow – they will receive assistance to begin their road to recovery.
It breaks my heart to see so many people hurting and I am so grateful for the help and hope we are able to provide. ...
Thank you again for all you do,
Debi Meeds, Executive Director
American Red Cross Greater Ozarks Chapter