By Lauren Clarke, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
“I’m going to put your sandwiches in a Slim Jim box, OK?” A North Texas Red Cross volunteer, Linda Carrier, hands a package to a Granbury, TX flood victim in her front yard on a hot and muggy Saturday afternoon.
When a flood destroys your belongings, kindness is welcomed in a variety of packages.
This past weekend, the American Red Cross served communities in Hood and Parker counties in North Texas where record-breaking rainfall caused massive flooding leaving many residents homeless or stranded.
Out in neighborhoods, Red Cross volunteers canvassed to check houses and ensure the dwellings were livable and that all residents were evacuated. “Most of the real estate greatly impacted has been in mobile housing, where the level of water is one to two inches above the floor of the home, qualifying it as officially destroyed,” said Red Cross volunteer Carmen Nixon. “Once someone gets over the initial shock of their home being flooded and everything is gone, they ask ‘what do I need to do now?’”
Other Red Cross volunteers from Dallas/Ft. Worth, such as Linda Carrier and Bert Newsome, drove around neighborhoods in a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) handing out bug spray, trash bags, clean up kits, food supplies and hot meals. Local families were seen carrying debris out from homes, drying out furniture in the Saturday sun and checking on neighbors and loved ones.
An American Red Cross shelter was opened at the First Christian Church of Granbury on Saturday, June 4 2016, where residents came for supplies, meals and to register with emergency response caseworkers. The church has been a long-standing partner for the American Red Cross, as it hosted a Red Cross shelter a few years ago when a tornado hit. “A few years ago we hosted thirty families for nine days here,” said Brandon Labelle, the Property Manager for First Christian Church.
“We have showers in the bathrooms and a large gym, so we have the room,” said Kenny Martin of First Christian Church, who helped build the church. “That’s why we built this place, to help the community. The Red Cross volunteers are super people. They make sure that people are taken care of–food to eat, water to drink and a place to sleep. And, they have compassion.”
This Bravos River community has had its fair share of disasters over the past several years with floods, droughts and an F4 tornado that hit in 2013.
“I grew up here, and I’ve lived here since I was two. I’ve never seen it like this before,” said local resident, Gwen Sanders. “Granbury is a tight-knit community and people are coming together trying to help each other. It may be lending a tractor, helping to get animals out or even putting people up in your home.”
“Unfortunately, these are folks that have known disaster over the past few years. They know the Red Cross here…” said Anita Foster, Public Information Officer for the DFW Red Cross.
One elderly resident in the Red Cross shelter, Linda Bennett, arrived on Saturday with the clothes on her back, her medicines and her adopted poodle, Phoebe. She lived in the Lake Front Apartments in Granbury until a mandatory evacuation forced all residents to leave immediately. Several terraces connecting the apartment buildings to Lake Granbury eroded and washed away into the lake, bringing the buildings with them.
“My neighbor knocked on my door and woke me up,” Bennett said. “I looked out the window of my patio and my patio was gone. I saw the air conditioning units of our building dangling in the air. The fire marshal says the whole building is sliding into the lake. I have a house full of beautiful furniture, but I’m not worried about anything except getting my father’s Purple Heart and Bronze Star. I don’t know if I will be able to go get it.”
To help flood victims in North Texas, please donate to the Red Cross by visiting http://www.redcross.org.