Tornado victims across eleven states are benefiting from relief provided by the American Red Cross disaster teams. Help ranges from a hot meal to counseling by mental health professionals. Teams of St. Louis Red Cross staff and volunteers have been dispatched to nearby Harrisburg, IL to assist victims of a tornado that ripped into the town on Wednesday.
St. Louis Regional Red Cross CEO Cindy Erickson said Red Cross assessment teams have identified 112 homes that were destroyed by the storm and some 400 more that suffered severe damage.
In Harrisburg, St. Louis volunteers are running a shelter at the First Baptist Church that includes a fixed feeding site. They run a second fixed feeding site in nearby Ridgeway. Mobile feeding units roam the area offering meals to workers sifting through debris. Erickson said in the early aftermath victims often don’t want to leave the site of their damaged homes so they stay and try to retrieve personal items from the debris. So the Red Cross comes to them.
“What we’ll be doing is driving through the neighborhoods and really encouraging people just to stop , to eat and to rest for a little while,” said Erickson.
Erickson spent the end of the week in Harrisburg along with Communications Director Peggy Barnhart. Barnhart described some of the debris as “shrapnel” that could never be linked back to where it came from.
Erickson added: “this absolutely does remind me of Joplin and it also reminds me of St. Louis this last spring.”
To help citizens be prepared for disasters the Red Cross provides tips and help in preparing an emergency kit. The free advice can be found on the agency’s web site.