!!As soon as she heard the news, Alma knew what she had to do. Cincinnati was flooded, and she had to go help.
It was January of 1937. She had 5 children now, so it wouldn’t be easy. But when she’d tucked little 6-year-old Harriet in the other night, she knew she had to go. Alma been just that age when the Great Flood of 1913 had destroyed her home and swept her parents – and her cozy life – away.
Ever since then, she’d sworn to herself that somehow she would pay the Red Cross back for the way they’d sheltered her, both physically and emotionally. This was her chance. She would go to Cincinnati and do whatever was needed.
A week later, Alma was in Cincinnati. The flood had crested a hair shy of eighty feet. Eighty feet! How could such a Noah-like flood have happened again in her lifetime? The weather reports were saying it was because of the unusually heavy rains, but whatever the reason, the results were the same. This time, though, the boats were floating down Cincinnati’s streets. The flood had caused gasoline to spill, and firefighters were putting all of that water to good use: fighting the fires!
Again, the Red Cross was there, along with the Coast Guard and even the Works Progress Adminstration. Cincinnati City Manager Clarence Dykstra was making sure order was maintained so aid could get where it was needed.
The 14-hour days exhausted Alma, but she knew she was where she needed to be. She ladled soup and made up cots. Most importantly to her, she was able to comfort children who’d lost their homes. She knew what to say because she knew what it felt like.
Somehow, knowing the Red Cross was there made it easier to do that last thing that needed to be done before she got a few hours of sleep. Cincinnati, Louisville, all of the cities this flood had devastated, were not alone. The Red Cross was there. By congressional charter, the Red Cross would always be there, whether it was a fire affecting a single family in her hometown of Columbus, a flood that affected the Tri-State area, or a war that came between soldiers and their families.
It didn’t lessen the disaster, but it was easier to bear, knowing she and others were not alone. And finally, Alma had been able to help.
The Great Flood of 1937 affected cities along the Ohio River, lasting from mid-January to early February 1937. Floods struck in Central Ohio again in 1959, and the Red Cross again assisted those affected. Most recently, Red Crossers from Ohio have deployed to assist with disaster relief for Hurricane Matthew.
Disasters of this scope are newsworthy, but the most common disaster the Central Ohio Chapter responds to is home fires. During October, the American Red Cross encourages everyone to practice home fire safety. Visit redcross.org/homefires to find out more about how to protect yourself and your loved homes from fire. To find out more about the local Home Fire Campaign or to become a volunteer, contact Mark Innocenzi, Regional Director, Volunteer Resources/AmeriCorps at firstname.lastname@example.org.