Tzu Chi Offered Disaster Relief After Record-Breaking Rain Hit St. Louis

Midwest  |  December 20, 2022
Tzu Chi volunteers distributed cash cards and blankets to flood-affected residents. Photo/ Yue Ma

Written by: Yue Ma
Translated by: H.B. Qin
Edited by: Patrick McShane

Cities across the United States are experiencing more severe weather events, with some areas suffering from unprecedented droughts and others flooded by heavy rains.  In St. Louis, Missouri, torrential rains at the end of July caused a river to overflow its banks sending dangerous flood waters through the surrounding area killing one person and damaging many homes in the community. Tzu Chi Midwest volunteers in St. Louis reacted immediately and went to the affected areas to care for the families at the request of the local government. The volunteers held an aid distribution event for residents affected by the flooding on August 27th and 28th, 2022, giving out cash cards, blankets, and other supplies.

Dozens of volunteers went to the affected areas to prepare for the relief distribution. Photo/ Yue Ma

The river’s water level reached unprecedented heights after 11’’ of rain fell in less than 8 hours. Water lapped at the underside of bridges, and local roads turned into rivers and streams. When recalling the stormy weather, many of the affected families could still vividly remember the scene and were scared to death, and they could not help but feel profound heartache after losing everything.

“When the flood came, it was like something out of a movie;” said Ronisha Johnson, a survivor of the disaster, as she recalled the scene, “Something nobody could even imagine going through. Especially in St. Louis; it’s something we never experienced before”.

Local police officer Susie Lorthridge, who saw it all firsthand, said in an interview, “When the flooding happened, everyone’s cars and homes were flooded. People were stuck in their homes, stuck on top of their cars”. Survivor Robbin Nave, who lost everything in the flooding, said, ” The water literally in my apartment was over 6 ft; everything was underwater. I lost everything.”

Tzu Chi volunteers explained to the survivors the distribution process and how to use the cash card. Photo/ Yue Ma

After the disaster, Tzu Chi volunteers mobilized to assess the extent of the damage, and after obtaining the details of those affected, distributed cash cards and blankets to help the impacted residents recover from the flooding.

Brenda Kenney, an optimistic survivor, thanked the volunteers for the supplies she received from Tzu Chi, saying, “I got a beautiful blanket. It was made from recycled bottles, I love this. I also got free disinfectant and a flashlight. All useful things, very useful. Grateful that there are people like you that are out there helping people.”

Before the distribution, volunteers introduced Tzu Chi to the affected residents. Photo/ Yue Ma

Tzu Chi volunteers explained to the survivors the distribution process and how to use the cash card. Photo/ Yue Ma

Having experienced such an unpredictable disaster and facing numerous hardships in their lives, what the residents needed most was tangible help. Tzu Chi volunteers reached out in time to offer much-needed aid, and after comforting and helping countless people, the survivors will also look forward to helping others in the future.

The strong rainfall caused the disaster, and even the people's nannies were affected. For some people that have lost everything, it gives them some hope that they can move forward and that everything can try and get back to normal.

Shelby McGoogan, a survivor of the disaster, saw hope in a desperate situation because of the arrival of Tzu Chi, saying, “It’s just such good energy; it just made me feel like people who don’t even know me care, you know? And that’s just the best feeling in the world; I was just feeling so hopeless and getting really depressed.”

There were tears and laughter, but the affected residents were encouraged by the Tzu Chi volunteers who gave from the bottom of their hearts to ease the survivor’s temporary financial hardship and turn their grief and anger into strength so that they could step onto the journey to rebuilding their lives and homes.

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