Helpers outlast floods
Fourteen local families found help with the local Red Cross during recent Mid-Valley storms that caused minor flooding and damage to some homes.
Keith Hohmann, emergency services director for the Three Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross, said Wednesday the majority of the families served were residents of Yuba County.
The organization did, however, help people who experienced flooding or storm damage in Sutter, Colusa and Butte counties, as well.
“It started off up in Butte County, on (Dec.) 28; a man called the office and said the floodwater was so high, he could not get back into his home,” Hohmann said. “He lived ... basically right at the Sacramento River in Chico. That was the start of it.”
From there it seemed to escalate, Hohmann said. As the Sacramento River continued rising due to releases from the Folsom Dam, residents of Colusa were also flooded, followed by Meridian residents.
“It went crazy from there,” Hohmann said. “Low-lying areas here in town right near the Feather River started to flood, and a couple places were not due to the river so much as just rain runoff from the roads down into the areas their houses were.”
Hohmann said the local chapter, which covers eight counties, was able to provide three days of shelter, clothing and food to 42 people from newborn to 81 years old.
“After we get going, we give them a day or so to start their process of recovery and then we'll call by phone and ask how things are going,” Hohmann said. “The client is expected to start his own recovery with Red Cross's assistance.
Hohmann said that unfortunately, “it seems that all disasters affect people who can least afford it.”
Services include assistance in searching for Section 8, or low-income, housing and a Client Assistance cards set with a predetermined amount of money available to use at any location. The amounts are based on a formula from the national organization.
Hohmann declined to specify the amount of money each person or family may receive, but he said the amounts depend on the number of family members, whether or not they need shoes and, during the cold season, whether or not they need jackets.
The Red Cross does not decide when to open a designated shelter. That call is left to the county Office of Emergency Services. If OES officials deem a need, Hohmann said, a location “out of harm's way” is opened for evacuees.
In the recent flooding cases, all families were put up at nearby hotels until they could find suitable housing.
Martha Griese, chief executive officer of the local chapter, said the 14 families she helped taught her a new lesson.
“The learning experience for me was that even though the levees did not break, we have many families in this community who are in need ... because they have isolated flooding from so much rain,” she said. “That was a new experience for us. Next time when rains come heavy, we'll be better prepared for people.”
Griese added that although she hadn't expected the number of people needing assistance, she still believes they got “four-star” service.
“I think the people who came in here left feeling not only that there was some hope, but I think they realized we can provide them with an enormous amount of help from Red Cross.”
Appeal-Democrat reporter Kymm Mann can be reached at 749-4708. You may e-mail her at email@example.com.