The American Red Cross is appealing for contributions to its depleted national disaster relief fund, and the state-level fundraising effort kicked off today with folks who saw the Red Cross in action during the Floods of ’93. Former Governor Terry Branstad, the honorary chairman of the Iowa campaign, is challenging Iowans to contribute 175-thousand dollars to that national fund. Branstad says “one of the things we take for granted too often is whenever there is a disaster, the Red Cross is always there.”Branstad says the Red Cross national disaster fund is at its lowest level in 15 years, with a cash balance of just over three-and-a-half million dollars. Branstad says to compare, the Iowans received 10-million dollars from that fund during the floods of ’93. Carol Grant, executive director of the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross, says it’s easy to think disasters happen to someone else, but the Iowa victims of the flood of ’93 know disaster can strike anytime, anywhere.During a morning news conference, the Red Cross invited a volunteer and a couple whose Valley Junction home was partially underwater in 1993 to highlight the services the Red Cross provides in disaster. Barbara Long says seeing her home flooded was devastating.Long says her son’s a preacher who could write a good sermon about how vital the Red Cross was during those days and weeks following the flood. She says she’s a “big cheerleader” for the Red Cross, which offered clothing, food and shelter to flood victims. Bill Shephard of West Des Moines volunteered to deliver meals to flood victims. Shephard says he saw folks swabbing water out of their homes and piling furniture on the curb, and — in his words — “it really kind of got to us.” After that initial volunteer experience, Shephard has volunteered to help the Red Cross respond to 19 different disasters, including the September 11th attacks in New York. To make a contribution to the Red Cross, call 1-800-HELP-NOW, or your local Red Cross affiliate.
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