A very busy year is drawing to a close for the American Red Cross chapter that covers western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Agency spokeswoman Danelle Schlegelmilch says they were on their toes all through 2011.
“We responded to over 400 disasters in our area and we also sent 200 local volunteers out throughout the country to help out with the 137 big disasters that we had,” Schlegelmilch says. “Tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes and a little bit of everything under the sun this year.”
She says by far, the largest and longest disaster they had to deal with was the four-month Missouri River flood which socked the region.
“That really did hit us hard,” Schlegelmilch says. “We had 11 shelters open. We served over 23,000 meals and snacks and gave out 13,000 clean-up kits and clean-up items so it definitely kept us busy this summer.”
The Red Cross provided nearly 300 people with overnight lodging at the shelters during the flood. Also during the year, Schlegelmilch says they responded to several tornadoes that plowed through neighborhoods and towns. “We had volunteers respond to Mapleton, Iowa, Alabama, Arkansas, pretty much all over the South wherever those tornados hit, we had local volunteers who stepped up and put on their Red Cross vests and went out and served,” she says.
“We really want to thank everyone for all of their hard work and dedication this year.” Schlegelmilch says the region is very fortunate so many people volunteer their time to those needing assistance. The Omaha-based chapter has more than 1,000 active volunteers.