Wednesday, May 05, 2010

In Tennessee helping after the Floods

I've been deployed to Nashville to help people recover from the historic flooding that hit the area this weekend. I visited a shelter last night where 100 people were staying. Their stories were harrowing:

How do you know when you are experiencing the worst day of your life? Sherrie Yates is certain that Sunday's flood in Nashville was the most terrifying thing to ever happen to her.

Sherrie was sleeping at 7 a.m. when her young niece woke her up shouting, "There's water in the house!" Sherrie stepped out of bed into several inches of water. She quickly gathered her five children onto her bed and called 911. They watched in fear as the water rose and rose, eventually covering the bed. "The kids were crying," she said. Eventually, they were evacuated by boat.

"When we got to the shelter, I was barefoot," Sherrie said. Now, thanks to the Red Cross, Sherrie said all of her family's needs are being met. (Watch Sherrie's video to learn more about the shelter.) As she begins to worry about her longterm recovery, Sherrie is glad to have the emotional support of the Red Cross volunteers at the shelter. "You all have been so great," she said.

Another family at the same shelter is also focusing on looking forward. Julio McCormick evacuated through flood waters up to his chest. He brought his fiancé, sister and neighbor to a Red Cross disaster shelter because they had nowhere else to turn. "Before we got here, we weren't really sleeping or eating right," he said. "The Red Cross has really helped us through the process."

Another couple at the shelter, Howard Hillard and his wife Lynn, were nearly swept away when flood water came into their neighborhood. They clung to each other and a fence before being rescued. "I never dreamed water was so powerful," Howard said. They returned to their trailer today to find it covered in mud, almost everything they owned was ruined. The Hillards said they're extremely grateful to the Red Cross for giving them safe shelter, food and clothes. "We're staying positive," Lynn said.

To learn more, visit

-Kristin Claes is a communicator for the Greater Chicago Red Cross.

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