Everyday at the Red Cross, we hear captivating stories of clients whose lives have been impacted by kindness and genuine care that our disaster relief staff provides to those in need, around-the-clock. Here is another great story to add to the archives:
On Monday, May 20, 2013, around 10:10 pm, a flash flood sent water rushing into our apartment. My husband was barely able to hold the door open for me to get out. We made our way up the stairs to safety. Then we heard our neighbor screaming for help. She and her three dogs had been sleeping and had no idea what had happened. My husband and a neighbor pulled them out of the bedroom window.
We left our apartments with just the clothes on our back and the shoes we were wearing. We sat in my car shivering, shaking, crying, praying – we were in panic mode. Not knowing what to do next, I called 911; they came and went. I called my renter’s insurance and gave my info, only to find out they could not help.
As the waters receded, we went back to our apartments to survey damages. We could not believe we had 20″ of water in the apartment. It had ruined everything.
We went down the road to a nearby hotel, but after telling our story, the manager gave only a $10 discount; we could not afford the remaining $84 left on the bill. We pulled into a gas station to contemplate our next move. I googled “Red Cross”- and eventually spoke with one of the most humane, nicest people I know, TJ Runge. She listened to me in my panic mode, calmed me down, and said to find a place for the rest of the night. She would visit the complex in the morning to assess the damages. We called our in-laws and stayed with them for the night.
The next morning brought more devastation; when we returned to our apartment, we saw demolition trucks ready to start tearing out the apartments because of contaminated water. We, and the other 44 families affected, could only pack our salvageable items.
TJ came to the complex, and I met with her. I gave my information, and she set me up an appointment to get assistance. I arrived not knowing what to expect. Much to my surprise, after the paper work was completed, we were handed a money card to stay in a motel for three days and enough money to purchase shoes, clothing, gas to get to work, and food; anything we needed immediately. I was wonderfully surprised and grateful. We actually were getting some help from an organization that I thought just dealt with the big disasters: tornadoes, hurricanes, fires. I left there feeling like someone cared deeply and was concerned about our well-being and our livelihood that had just been destroyed. TJ explained everything to me: my responsibilities, and their willingness to continue to help by referring us to other agencies that might help us further.
Three weeks later, after securing another place to live, the Red Cross gave us half of the required first month’s rent. How wonderful that they continued to help us through our loss. It is with much, much gratitude, grace and faith from the Red Cross that we thank them for helping us the way they did. We don’t know where we would be without them.
Julie and Tim Howell
Along with Julie & Tim, we are certainly grateful for our mission and those like TJ, who are committed to carrying out our mission in times of emergency. To find out more about what we do, and how you can become involved as a donor or a volunteer — visit us at redcross.org/stl.