A massive cleanup is left for those whose homes were in the path of one of the worst floods in the St. Louis area in over two decades.
“I have been fervently praying for those suffering due to the recent flooding in our city and state. As our region watched the flood waters rise to record heights, so too did we see the damage, loss, and suffering increase,” Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis said in a Jan. 7 statement.
More than 10 inches of rain fell on the St. Louis area over three days starting on Dec. 26, 2015 the Associated Press reported. At least 15 people in Missouri, and 10 in Illinois, were killed due to the flooding. Thousands were forced to leave their homes and only recently were they able to return and begin the cleanup process — if their homes were still standing.
“We mourn for those who lost their lives. We know that many homes full of memories have been destroyed. Photos, heirlooms, and other keepsakes are lost. Businesses were devastated and will need extensive repairs,” Archbishop Carlson said.
He announced that all parishes in the diocese have been instructed to hold special collections the weekend of Jan. 16-17 to raise assistance for the flood victims through Catholic Charities of St. Louis.
“Those most impacted by the flooding will be recovering long after the water has disappeared,” he said. “It is my pledge that the Catholic Church will continue serving those in the impacted areas until these needs are met. This is our responsibility as Catholics, especially during this Year of Mercy.”
Yvonne Berry, who is working with the American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri to coordinate the local Multi-Agency Resource Centers, or MARCs, said that even though the rain has stopped, many families are still in need of basic necessities such as water, food, and shelter.
Right now, she said, the most important thing is that families know where to turn for help. Local agencies including Catholic Charities of St. Louis, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Lutheran Family Children Services, United Way, and the Salvation Army have teamed up to offer their help in one place, making it easier for families to get the help they need.
At the MARCs, which will open Jan. 9, families can pick up cleanup kits, have their property damage assessed, and receive help navigating the paperwork involved with receiving emergency aid.
The American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri is sending teams of caseworkers, nurses, and mental health professionals into communities to offer assistance and determine just how much damage has been done. Food trucks have also been sent out to serve lunch and dinner to those still in their homes.
“The water is starting to recede but our damage assessment team is still out in the community,” Berry said.
Catholic Charities of St. Louis was contacted, but did not respond in time for the deadline.