Just days after the one-year anniversary of a flood which submerged a large portion of downtown Gainesville, the mighty Mississippi overflowed its banks and leaped over levees designed to protect several communities.

With Red Cross natural disaster funds depleted a week prior, many living on the Mississippi are left wondering from where relief funding will come.

The estimated cost of relief efforts is at least $15 million, according to a press release from the American Red Cross. So far about $8 million has come in from donations.

Ray Fletcher, Cooke County emergency management coordinator, whose parents live 40 miles from the Mississippi in Mt. Olive, Ill., said it helps to donate to charities such as the American Red Cross, even when the disasters are not nearby.

“When we had our flood, we had people come from just about everywhere, sending money and making donations,” he said. “You never know when it’s going to happen to you, and when it does, it helps to have that assistance available.”

Fletcher reccomends making donations to American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Texas Baptist Men, and other reputable organizations, or ones your are familiar with such as through one’s religious denomination, financial institution or service organization.

The American Red Cross opened more than 100 shelters and deployed an estimated 3,000 volunteers to help serve nearly 500,000 meals and snacks, and distribute the thousands of clean-up kits to families returning to their flood ravaged homes, a press release from the Red Cross said.

According to the Associated Press, Lincoln County Emergency Management spokesman Andy Binder said the river was overflowing 90 percent of the levees in eastern Lincoln County, Ill., and at least four more breaches were expected to aggravate the flooding overnight.

While the situation worsened in Lincoln County, it improved slightly elsewhere along the river after the National Weather Service significantly lowered crest predictions. The revisions came after several levee breaks in Illinois, including one on Wednesday near Meyer, Ill., that potentially could inundate 17,000 acres of farmland with water that otherwise would have been flowing south.

That means many towns along the river won’t see the record-level flood crests they expected, the AP reported. The new prediction shows St. Louis cresting at 37.3 feet on Friday, well short of the 49.58-foot mark in 1993.

But National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kramper said river towns aren’t safe yet.

“There will still be a lot of places with major flooding,” Kramper said. “Even at the levels we’re expecting now, a lot of places are threatened.”

Anne Forbes, a political consultant in San Antonio, sent a letter out to loved ones about her home of Quincy, Ill., a city of about 40,000 in Adams County.

“As you can imagine, it is very hard to be away from my hometown during this critical time,” she wrote.

Forbes said about half of Adams County’s levees failed on Wednesday and all of the northern levees were breached, meaning that the river is no longer a mile wide, but now nine miles wide — taking with it roughly eight miles of towns, homes, farms, crops and livestock.

“Those saddening TV images of completely submerged homes and streets are just minutes from my family’s home,” she said. “The volunteer sandbagging stations are in the parks where I grew up playing. Quincy and Adams County are still fighting for its central and southern regions, hoping to contain an angry river.”

She added: “Many of the world’s most fertile farm fields are now completely underwater,” she said. “In what few fields remain, the crops are rotting, and the stench is unbearable.”

Volunteers have filled about 2 million sandbags in Quincy, she said.

The best way to help the Red Cross continue to provide food, shelter, counseling and other assistance to victims of disasters is to make a financial contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund, the press release said. For example, a $25 donation can provide five blankets at an emergency shelter; a $350 donation can provide emergency food and shelter for up to 25 people for one day.

Donors can contribute via the Internet, by phone at 1(800)435-7669 (or 1-800-257-7575 in Spanish) or by mail by writing: American Red Cross, P.O. Box 4002018, Des Moines, IA 50340-2018.

The Red Cross honors donor intent, as a donor may designate funds to a particular area. For example, in the memo a donor could write in “Quincy, Ill.-Adams County flood” and have his/her donations directed to rescue and relief operations there.

On the Net:

American Red Cross: www.redcross.org

Quincy, Ill., flood relief: www.mercantilebk.com/secure/redcross.html

Salvation Army: www.salvationarmyusa.org

Texas Baptist Men: www.texasbaptistmen.org



Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at

andyhoguegdr@ntin.net

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