By Caitlin Hurley
For the second time in two years, floodwaters forced Tamara Luna and her family to leave their home in Granite City, Illinois, and turn to the American Red Cross for shelter.
“Our home is raised, but the water has reached the electrical box,” Luna said. “They shut off our electricity for safety.” That same situation unfolded in 2015 and early 2016, when rising floodwaters threatened her home.
When we spoke with her Wednesday night, Luna and her family were preparing to spend their third night in the Red Cross shelter at Hope Lutheran Church in Granite City. They had just finished eating dinner together around a table and chatting.
While Red Cross volunteers staff the shelter and provide cots and comfort kits, it takes a community to help those who need it in a time of disaster and uncertainty. The Lunas’ dinner was donated by Ravenelli’s and Hope Lutheran Church opened its doors to provide shelter space. It is home to one of the ten shelters managed by the American Red Cross in Missouri and the Greater St. Louis area during the May floods.
“[The American Red Cross does] great things. The least we could do is put our two cents in to help those who need it,” said Phil Lamm, the president of the Hope Lutheran Congregation. “You have to love them as you love yourself.”
Lamm said he and Pastor Alan Beuster agreed to help out and move church activities out of the parish hall to provide a warm, dry space for those in the community who needed it. “Every little bit helps,” Lamm said.
“Their generosity was in the spirit of brotherhood,” said Tom Ollie, an American Red Cross shelter volunteer.
As the Luna family wait for the rain to stop and the floodwaters to recede, they said, “We are very thankful for the Red Cross. Without them, we wouldn’t know what to do.”
If you, or someone you know, needs to find a shelter, visit redcross.org/emo, check the Red Cross Emergency App, or call 1 (800) 768-8048.
As floodwaters begin to recede in some areas, only return to if it is deemed safe by officials. For other safety tips for returning residents, click here.