By Jane Dean, Red Cross Volunteer
I had spoken with Cynthia during a Health Services follow up call. She seemed very stressed. I could not continue our conversation, as her ride had arrived to take her to a potential temporary place to stay. After leaving her several voicemails, about two days later she finally returned my calls leaving me two desperate, tearful voicemails. I was able to make arrangements to go out with a team and see how we could help her. Cynthia was staying in a motel room with her daughter and mother in two other rooms. She was very emotional and frantic with worry about how she was going to recover from losing everything.
Cynthia has medical needs and evacuated from her home when the flood waters came. She recanted her story to us. She had woken up from sleep and thought her son had spilled a drink on the floor; she very soon came to realize that the house was flooded. In a matter of seconds the water had risen to her waist by the time she was at the front door. She was screaming for her family. Cynthia was very scared as neither her, or her daughter, could swim. Her daughter Tiffany and Tiffany’s children were all trying to get out. As Cynthia’s medical condition necessitates the use of a walker and a wheelchair, she struggled to walk and thought she was going to die. Her daughter got an air mattress and somehow the family managed to get Cynthia onto the mattress. The mattress began to float down the street and Cynthia struggled to stay afloat on the mattress. She was panicking because she had no idea where her daughter and grandchildren were. Eventually Cynthia was reunited with her family and they were evacuated to a shelter. Cynthia had no medications, walker or wheelchair with her. Thankfully, the Red Cross managed to assist her in replacing her medications and getting her a manual wheelchair to use.
Cynthia and her family were moved from the first shelter to a second shelter, where unfortunately all her medications, among a few other items, were stolen. Cynthia was assisted to get temporary accommodation which was good; however she now needed her health needs attending to all over again. By the time we got to Cynthia in the motel room, she was in tears. She was under a great deal of stress and couldn’t think straight. After listening patiently and trying to help her deal with one issue at a time, we eventually were able to calm her down. The Red Cross was able to assist Cynthia with replacing a lot of her medications, a walker, a wheelchair, eyeglasses and other medical equipment.
Cynthia and her daughter were extremely grateful for the help that Red Cross was able to give. When we left the motel room, instead of being in tears, Cynthia breathed a sigh of relief, smiled and even laughed a little. Cynthia and her family have a long road ahead of them, but it was heartwarming for us to be able to make a difference in Cynthia’s life.