In preparation for the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill, The American Red Cross says it has disaster teams staged around Arkansas to set up shelters and provide assistance if needed because of the storm.
Severe flood waters caused by heavy rains starting May 6 have begun to receed. However, the recent storm is still expected to bring a lot of rain, winds and the risk of tornadoes.
In an effort to efficiently respond to the potential for disaster, the Red Cross has maintained a network of churches and community centers that are available to serve as shelters. Spokeswoman Brigette Williams says over 60 shelters have been opened in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas in recent months. Clean up kits and mental health assistance are also being offered to those impacted by flooding.
“We are in constant communication with local officials who are keeping an eye on things, as well as the National Weather Service so that we are trying to stay ahead of what we think may occur,” Williams said.
Over 2,000 responders are prepared to provide disaster assistance, and according to Williams, at least 90 percent of them are volunteers.
“These are neighbors of ours who have taken time to be trained in disaster response. Most of them have various specialties—whether it be driving emergency vehicles or knowing how to operate and manage emergency shelters,” Williams said.
A recent drop in flood waters has allowed the Red Cross to close the three shelters opened in Arkansas, including two in Pine Bluff and one in Texarkana.
“This is something that we understand happens. It is part of the nature of when you have severe weather,” Williams said. “You can predict as best you can what’s going to happen, but fortunately we are flexible enough that when the unexpected happens we’re able to move around.”