By Carl Manning
American Red Cross
When the water started rising, Dennis Schweiger really wasn’t worried until his wife Markey called from work and told him the area around her was flooding.
He told her he would come pick her up, but when he stepped on the front porch, he saw the swift moving rising water engulfing his front yard. That’s when he started worrying.
“While I was standing on the porch talking to my wife, I saw my garage float by with my Corvette in it,” Dennis recalled. “I held my dog because if I had put him down he would have been a goner.”
He said the water went down almost as quickly as it rose, but the damage had been scores of homes in the West Plains, Mo., area. Now it was a matter of recovering and salvaging what could be saved.
A few days after all that happened, Dennis heard about a Multi-Agency Resource Center, or MARC, being held at the civic center with the American Red Cross and some 20 partner agencies there to help those recovering from the flood. It’s one of some 18 scheduled to operate in the flooded areas of the state.
Essentially, a MARC is one-stop shopping with various agencies gathered at one location to help people. Dennis wasn’t sure what would be there, but he decided to check it out and liked what he saw.
“It makes it so much simpler for people who have been through all this turmoil. They really can walk out of here with peace of mind,” Dennis said.
Like the others there, Dennis registered and was assigned a Adventist Community Services volunteer who guided him from one location to the next to make sure he didn’t overlook an agency where he might get assistance.
One of the first stops for Dennis was the Red Cross, and volunteer Les Orser of Grand Junction, CO, who specializes in disaster counseling. After talking several minutes, Dennis shook hands and was taken to his next stop along the large circle of tables of assistance groups.
Les said recovering from a disaster can be difficult and often it helps to talk to someone who can put things in perspective. He advises people to concentrate on what needs to be done that day rather than focusing on the overall problem.
Dennis also talked to Red Cross caseworkers to get an idea of what they could do help him in his recovery, a long process that will include major interior repairs to the double-wide mobile home.
He next talked to Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri volunteer Dee Maples who explained that her organization among other things has teams to help repair and rebuild damaged homes.
Dennis also talked to those from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, where he found information about avoiding various scams that often follow disasters and the University of Missouri Extension Service, that had information on such things as how to replace lost vital documents and tips on cleaning up after the flood.
At the Salvation Army table, Dennis was explaining what he had gone through when Red Cross caseworker Mary Brod of Richmond, VA., walked up and told him he was eligible for financial assistance after a Red Cross damage assessment team had checked out his home while he was making the rounds at the MARC.
As he started to thank her, Mary put her arm around him to assure him that thing will be better and reflexively he did the same with her.
His journey around the circle of assistance completed, Dennis stepped outside where he was met by other Red Cross volunteers offering items such as rakes, shovels, storage bins, clean up kits from the Salvation Army and even dog food.
“I got more help than I really expected and I’m sure there will be more to come,” he said with a smile.