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Red Cross Helps Bridge Communication Gap
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Glenda Plunkett
 
April 27, 2007

Imagine being fifteen, and your family just moved into your new apartment. Everything is still in boxes. Nothing is organized. Now imagine that rain starts and continues on and on. It seems to be without end and now is causing flooding. This is the story of Vanessa Salas, of 49 West Main.

Vanessa Salas displaced by the storm stands in front of the Winery-Red Cross Client Service Center, in back stand mother, Rosa Riverra, and daughter, Kelli, whom Vanessa carried through the flood. (Photo credit:  Glenda Plunkett)
Vanessa Salas displaced by the storm stands in front of the Winery-Red Cross Client Service Center, in back stand mother, Rosa Riverra, and daughter, Kelli, whom Vanessa carried through the flood.
(Photo credit: Glenda Plunkett)

“We saw the water rising faster and faster. Within an hour it seemed the water was not just in the street but in our apartment. We had to leave. As my family left and we stepped into the street, it wasn’t just water but mud. It was already knee high. My neighbors were trying to carry their babies. One woman had two babies in her arms. I took one of her babies and waded through the water. It was all I could do to keep from falling down. It was so hard to stay balanced. A man saw us and helped us to his truck. He gave us a ride to the shelter.”

Once in the shelter Salas’ family was welcomed in. “We had showers, food, clean clothes, and anything we needed. I don’t know what we are going to do next. But I do know that I am happy for their help.”

Salas is Hispanic and bilingual. When asked if the language barrier added to their obstacles, she replied, “I really don’t think so. The Red Cross workers helped us and found ways to communicate even when some of our neighbors didn’t speak English. There are a lot of Spanish speaking people here and the Red Cross found a way to bridge the communication gap. We are not used to eating American food and they even let us cook. That helped so much. It gave us back part of ourselves.”

When asked about the shelter she replied that is was good that people did so much to help. Her worries were about the next step of finding an apartment and replacing everything they lost. But she commented, “I will never forget that walk in the flood and all that Red Cross did for me. They gave me a place to shower, dry, clean clothes including underwear. We didn’t have anything, just each other. The Red Cross is wonderful!”



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