Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reaching out, helping Faribault area flood victims October 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:00 PM
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TWO WEEKS AFTER floodwaters inundated many southern Minnesota communities, including Faribault, efforts continue to help those in need. Tonight I attended an all-you-can-eat chili feed at Hy-Vee Food Store. Proceeds will go to the local Red Cross chapter to assist flood victims in the area.

Rice-Le Sueur Counties Red Cross Executive Director Angela Storch, who has been on the job only nine months, was at the feed, passing out hugs and information and sharing her obvious passion for helping others. She is a non-stop bundle of energy and, she readily admits, can’t stop talking.

But that’s a good quality. You need someone with Angela’s leadership abilities and communications skills to handle a disaster like this. As she shared general stories about families who’ve been pushed to the edge, reeling from the loss of their homes, or severe damage to their homes, I could feel her genuine care. About 70 homes in Faribault were affected by floodwaters or sewer back-up.

The Red Cross has been dealing not only with the physical needs of flood victims, but also with the mental health issues that often follow a traumatic event such as this, Angela told me as she grabbed a bowl of chili. She’s referred individuals to other agencies qualified to assist with those health needs.

She’s quick to praise Faribault’s mayor, local emergency directors, the Salvation Army, area food shelves and businesses like Hy-Vee that are reaching out to help. The grocery store donated $9,000 in hand-sanitizers/disinfectants. She’s thankful for the volunteers who’ve aided flood victims, for those who are organizing benefits—there are three more in the next several days—for the spirit of “Minnesota Nice” that prevails.

I asked if volunteers are still needed to help with clean-up. She needs to get updated on that, but suggested calling the coordination center. Angela expects requests now will be for people with wheelbarrows and crow bars and strong backs and arms who can gut and cart building materials up stairs and out of flood-damaged homes.

Through the entire process, this former Faribault United Way director says she’s learned so much. She once considered Red Cross funding requests, but now she understands, really understands, she says, just how much the Red Cross does.

For today, that’s mainly helping victims of the devastating floods that swept through southern Minnesota two weeks ago.

FYI: Call (507) 332-6234 to volunteer with flood relief efforts.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling