Red Cross on the Ground as Northwest Rivers Overflow Their Banks

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 — The American Red Cross is responding to severe flooding along rivers in the northwest while relief operations continue in Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, both hit by deadly tornadoes in the last several weeks.

In Montana, more than 200 people spent their Memorial Day holiday in a Red Cross shelter on the campus of Montana State University. The Red Cross is preparing to respond to additional flooding in Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota as rivers throughout the area threaten to overflow their banks.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has declared a state of emergency. As rains continues to pound the state, changing weather patterns could bring rapid snow melt and more flooding and evacuations later this week.

The Red Cross is helping people who have evacuated their homes, providing meals and shelter. Severely impacted is the Crow Nation in southeastern Montana, where 11,000 residents are dealing with flooding from the Little Big Horn River and dry creek beds that have become raging streams. Communities have flooded and roads are under water, leaving some residents stranded. The Red Cross and Southern Baptist Association are working together to deliver food and water daily.

Meanwhile, more than 175 people spent Monday night in Red Cross shelters in Joplin. Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern visited Joplin over the weekend and described the devastation she witnessed as heartbreaking. “The community is working so hard to bounce back,” she said. “I am so proud of what the American Red Cross is doing to help the people of Joplin.”

The Red Cross and its partners are preparing food and delivering meals and snacks throughout the Joplin area, as well as comfort and clean-up kits. Red Cross workers are operating emergency aid stations to provide health and mental health services and participating in the multi-agency resource center where people can obtain information about what help is available to them.

Federal officials are reporting almost 6,300 single family homes were destroyed, along with more than 570 multi-family dwellings. Another 350 homes were severely damaged. Eight schools were damaged or destroyed, along with two fire stations. St. John’s Hospital was severely damaged and the smaller Landmark Hospital is still without power, operating on generators.

In Tuscaloosa, almost 60 people are still seeking refuge in Red Cross shelters after the deadly tornado which swept through that community in late April. The Red Cross is also distributing food throughout the affected neighborhoods, as well as clean-up supplies. The Red Cross also had shelters open Monday night in Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, New York and Vermont.

Since March 31, the Red Cross has launched 35 large disaster response operations across 24 states, supported by more than 10,000 trained disaster workers from all 50 states. The Red Cross has served more than 2.3 million meals and snacks and handed out more than 1.2 million relief items like toothbrushes, shampoo, tarps, rakes and other clean-up supplies. More than 240 shelters have been opened as part of the relief effort, the Red Cross providing 22,000 overnight stays. Red Cross health services and mental health services workers have provided more than 53,000 consultations.

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to get help to people affected by disasters. Please consider making a donation today to help to those in need. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.


American Red Cross
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.