STORY: Recovering From the Flood? The American Red Cross Can Help

Illinois Flood Response

When disaster strikes, the American Red Cross is there, working with people during their darkest hour, providing hope and help to communities during and after disaster.

Karen Young and her family have lived along the Wabash River in West Union, Illinois for more than 30 years. When a Red Cross Disaster Assessment Team met with Karen at her home on Mechanic Street in West Union (also called Old York) she explained that they have suffered through 4 or 5 floods, but this was by far the worst. Their primary home sustained 10 feet of water in the basement and came within an inch of flooding their living area.

In preparation for the flooding, Karen had been moving a lot of her personal treasures, including family keepsakes and hundreds of photos into the guest cottage, because it is on higher ground. The family thought it would be safer there, though she now knows that was wishful thinking. The cottage was swamped with three feet of water during the flood and she lost almost everything. Karen and her daughter spent the better part of a day separating pictures she recovered from the cottage in order to keep them from sticking together and being lost forever.

A friend brought a large truck and parked it in front of the cottage. The family had to wait for the floodwaters to recede before they could remove items from the cottage that might be saved, and they loaded them into the truck. They also had an end-loader brought in and parked in front of the door.

“We just kept hauling things out of the cottage and throwing them in the end loader bucket, and then we dropped it as garbage in the dumpster, it really hurt,” recalled Karen.

The Red Cross is providing clean up kits for the Young’s and others who are now working to salvage what they can and move towards recovery after these devastating floodwaters. If you are beginning the clean up in your home, be sure that you wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots. Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come into contact with flood water, including canned goods, water bottles, and plastic utensils. When in doubt, throw it out!

For more information and details on where to get the Red Cross clean up kits call 1-800-REDCROSS or visit us online at

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