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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Riverview Resident Sees Midwest Flood Devastation Firsthand

It was three weeks in her life that Riverview resident Virginia Hankins won't soon forget.

"Jenny" just got back from the flooded area of Wisconsin, seeing some of the worst destruction that area has ever seen.


Jenny, a local Red Cross volunteer, has spent the past three weeks, helping water-logged residents try to get back on their feet, after rivers and streams overflowed their banks and invaded homes and businesses. Although the statewide Wisconsin Red Cross is headquartered in the state capital of Madison, Jenny spend a lot of time in Beaverdam, Wisconsin, one of the hardest-hit areas.

"There was flooding in both the farmlands and the towns and villages," Jenny says. "There was also talk of even moving one village, Days Mill, to higher ground, to better protect it from future water problems."

"We've been trying to provide for the people's needs," she says. "The most needed items were food and clothing, but the Red Cross has also provided vouchers for lodging and shelter."

One thing struck Jenny, as she talked with dozens of dazed and stunned people.

"The way the people here are self-sufficient," she says. "Many of them actually turned down help, saying they don't need it. These are a hardy people, almost as if they didn't want a hand-out. For those folks, we tried to offer a HAND-UP, so if they needed it, support would be available."

"Luckily, these folks had early warning systems in place," says Jenny. "They were able to prepare for what was coming, and try to get their families and property ready for the onslaught of water."

"The small villages in Wisconsin really pulled together," she says. "I was struck by how the people watched out for each other, in some cases, passing over help for themselves, just to make sure someone else got the help they needed more."

"Our goal was to help them assess their needs, finding out the most needy cases, and getting the help they needed, to the ones who needed it the most, in a quick, essential manner."

Welcome home, Jenny!