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Nonprofits respond to needs in flood areas

Residents take pets and belonging out of their homes in the flood hit areas around Walker, La., Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.
Residents take pets and belonging out of their homes in the flood hit areas around Walker, La., Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. AP

As floodwaters continue to affect South Louisiana, South Mississippi nonprofits are responding to the need.

“We have a big flood relief effort in Natchez,” said John McFarland, executive director of the Southeast Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We sent people to a shelter set up in Natchez, and we’re seeing people from Baton Rouge taking shelter in Natchez.”

He said about 70 had arrived there by Monday morning.

“Our folks are on the phone with Louisiana getting requests for help,” he said. “This is going to be long term.”

He said more than 500 Red Cross workers from across the country were traveling to Louisiana on Monday and Tuesday.

Unlike a situation with a tornado, where the damage is done quickly and help can be deployed quickly, the massive flooding situation will be slow-going and long-term, he said.

“Right now, the biggest concerns are search and rescue and shelter,” he said. “As the water recedes, they’ll be going house and house and street to street for damage assessment.”

First concerns are for shelter and food, followed by providing mental health counselors, McFarland said. Next comes damage assessment, followed by delivering cleanup kits and more long-term temporary shelter if homes are not livable.

Relief concerns are not just for humans.

In many cases, pet owners evacuated so quickly, they were able to scoop up their animals but not much else their pets would need, including food, water and other necessities.

South Mississippians who want to send pet supplies to areas affected by flooding are encouraged to take them to the Gulfport Fire Department, said Katie King, HSSM community engagement specialist.

The Humane Society of Louisiana, which is based in New Orleans and works throughout Louisiana, posted on their Facebook page Monday that kennels, crates, litter pans, bowls, towels and bleach are all needed.

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