As the muddy red waters recede and residents of flooded neighborhoods in and around Wichita Falls, Texas, return to their homes, the lucky ones are finding their houses untouched by the flood waters and are breathing a sigh of relief. Others, however, are not so fortunate.
The American Red Cross estimates that more than 500 homes [in Wichita Falls] were affected by the recent floods in northern Texas. To assist residents affected by the flooding, the Red Cross opened a Client Service Center at Washington Jackson Elementary School on the city’s east side.
At 8:00 a.m., as residents began lining up on opening day, Red Cross client service volunteers started conducting preliminary interviews with the individuals and families. As space became available, the residents entered the center and talked with other client service workers about their losses. There was a steady flow of residents all day long.
Assistance is being provided to flood victims based on emotional, physical and material needs caused or exacerbated by the disaster and that individuals or families cannot meet because they lack resources. After reviewing these factors, Red Cross client service workers present eligible victims with a client assistance card that can be used to purchase necessary items to assist with recovery.
"We ask that residents bring identification with them that shows their address," said Red Cross volunteers Mary Maddox and Ruth Broquard of Illionis, two client service workers who are assisting residents at the Wichita Falls center. "It could be a driver’s license, a utility bill, rent statement, or any document that shows where they lived in one of the affected areas."
The Client Service Center represents just one component of the many disaster relief services—such as shelter, food, clean-up supplies, water, and mental health counseling—that the Red Cross will continue to provide to the residents of the Wichita Falls area as long as they are needed.
"Our goal is to contact every affected home in the flooded areas, either through the residents coming here to the Client Service Center or through Red Cross outreach teams that we will send to the neighborhoods," said Red Cross Client Services Manager Jean Locke. "If they can’t come to us, we’ll go to them."
Red Cross Nurses Entertain
Many Wichita Falls residents brought their small children with them to the center. Two Red Cross nurses, Suzanne Rudolph of Charlotte, N.C., and Evelyn Wilson of Elm City, N.C., entertained the youngsters while their parents met with client services staff.
American Red Cross volunteer Suzanne Rudolph entertained 3-year old Julisa Velasquez while her parents were meeting with Red Cross client services staff.
(Photo Credit: Alan Tobey/American Red Cross)
"Working with these kids has got to be the best job in the Red Cross," said Rudolph, sitting in a corner of the center, surrounded by teddy bears and coloring books. "Not only are we giving their parents time to focus on their interview, but I can listen to their stories about how they are coping with the recent flooding."
As a registered nurse working in psychiatric care, Rudolph is well acquainted with the emotional stresses that can develop during times of disaster. Upon request, the Red Cross has trained mental health counselors available to help families through these difficult times.
"Julisa Velasquez is only three years old and has a cast on her left arm, and her family’s home suffered during the flooding," said Rudolph. "When she came in to see me, she was very quiet and a little shy. By the time we finished talking and playing with coloring books, she had a big smile."
The center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and will remain in operation as long as there is a need. Arrangements have been made to have interpreters available for Spanish-speaking residents affected by the flooding.
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.