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Life at the Red Cross Flood Shelter in Greenwood

By Sandra Knispel | Published 19 May 2011 03:40pm | comments
Flooding, like the one outside the Greenwood levee, has prompted some Delta residents to seek refuge in American Red Cross shelters in the region.

With active flood advisories for parts of the Mississippi Delta some of the displaced have started to arrive at shelters. MPB’s Sandra Knispel filed this report from the American Red Cross flood shelter in Greenwood.

5-year-old Antonio Deere Jr. is sitting at a table in the recreation center of the North Greenwood Baptist Church, now doubling as a Red Cross flood shelter. He’s drawing with crayons; a picture of a house with red hearts on it. [Nat sound “This is the door!”] Home is in Belzoni. Three days ago, he arrived at this shelter with his grandparents, two teenage uncles, and his 94-year-old great grandmother. His grandma, 43-year-old Pamela Whitaker, decided to evacuate even though some neighbors decided to stay.

“So, I did not want to be trapped in that much water. I was afraid to get drowned in it and we had some friends and family that stayed for Katrina and they didn’t live to see this day," Whitaker explained her decision to leave as a precaution.

Her husband, 42-year old Edward Whitaker, did not want to evacuate at first.

“It’s alright and then it’s rough being away from home. But everybody here is really friendly, nice atmosphere, everybody getting along and everything like that. And I’ve just gotta accept it, Edward Whitaker said.

Jack Vanderhulst, a volunteer from Michigan, is the Red Cross evening supervisor at the Greenwood shelter, which opened just a week ago.

“We have so far processed 25 people into the shelter and there are probably five more that are considering moving out of their local hotels into the shelter.”

According to Pamela Whitaker, the hardest thing about being in a shelter is trying to sleep in a room full of strangers. She says she nods off briefly but does not sleep deeply, worrying about her grandchildren's safety.

"That don’t feel good, that’s not really comfortable. But I learnt to be contented [sic] in whatever state I’m in," she said.

Right now, the Whitaker’s home in Belzoni is not flooded but it’s just one block away from the Yazoo River and the situation can change quickly. According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, more than 4,200 Mississippians are currently displaced due to flooding or the threat thereof.

Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Greenwood.

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Flooding, like the one outside the Greenwood levee, has prompted some Delta residents to seek refuge in American Red Cross shelters in the region.


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