Family of Five Receive a Jump Start into Their Next Chapter Following Hurricane Laura

by Stephanie Wallace, staff contributor, American Red Cross North Texas

As a shelter manager at one of the emergency lodging locations in the Dallas area, Stephanie Wallace has heard both heartbreaking and inspirational stories from those who evacuated Louisiana before Hurricane Laura made landfall on August 27.

Now, over a month since the deadly storm passed, more than 8,000 people remain in emergency lodging across Texas and Louisiana, including around 1,700 people in the DFW area. For each family, the Red Cross works with partners to meet their unique needs. In addition to helping provide shelter, food, water and other materials, the Red Cross supports with disaster mental health, health services and spiritual care.

Wallace described one family who took shelter in Dallas and the difference Red Cross volunteers, Tasha and Diana, were able to make in helping a mother find the courage to take the next steps in her recovery.

A single mother of 4 from Lake Charles, Louisiana arrived at the shelter after evacuating when trees surrounding her house collapsed and fell through her home. The fallen trees decimated her kitchen, living room, and the children’s bedroom. She evacuated with nothing but her children and the clothes on their back.

When they first arrived at the shelter, you could tell the whole family was physically and mentally exhausted. The mom was worried and had no idea what to do next.

Red Cross volunteer assisting a Hurricane Laura evacuees at a Dallas shelter. Photo by Gabriel Cano/Red Cross. September 2020.

Concerned, two Red Cross shelter volunteers, Tasha and Diana, approached the mom to check on her and make sure she was aware of the many resources available. They provided her with snacks, laundry detergent, diapers and baby formula to help her care for her family.

She was in complete shock. She told the shelter workers she had no idea the Red Cross would help people in this way.

After spending some time at the shelter, this resilient Hurricane Laura evacuee began to feel empowered to get back on her feet. She planned to make a fresh start for her and her family in the local area. Before her departure, she met with Red Cross caseworkers to discuss her plans and identify additional government and community resources that could help her take the next steps.

As luck would have it, when she tried to leave, her car wouldn’t start. Fortunately, Tasha and Diana were there again to help get her car jump-started. In a way, you could say they helped jump-start her car and the next chapter on her road to recovery.

Before she left, she thanked Tasha and Diana and said she didn’t know what she would have done had Red Cross not been there for her and her children. Nothing means more to a humanitarian’s heart than knowing you made a difference in someone’s life.

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