Red Cross CEO: Louisiana Floods Largest Since Superstorm Sandy

Following heavy rains that caused extreme flooding in Louisiana, more than 8,000 people are still living in shelter provided by the American Red Cross.

“At the peak of all this we had 10,000 people living in our shelters and we have over 1,000 volunteers and workers on the ground here that are helping out,” said American Red Cross president and CEO Gail McGovern. “We’re bringing more and more volunteers in to help the people of Louisiana; it’s really a large operation.”

McGovern said the floods in the state prompted the largest disaster response the organization has had since Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, which caused more than 100 deaths and more than $65 billion in damages to the East Coast. So far, the floods in Louisiana have taken the lives of 13 people and impacted tens of thousands of homes. The Red Cross estimates damages to cost at least $30 million.

“We’re providing food, comfort, lots of hugs,” McGovern said. “We have mental health counselor volunteers that are in our shelters helping people deal with their loss. It’s a massive operation and we’re going to be here for the weeks and months ahead.”

The CEO also praised the efforts of the volunteers and people of Louisiana during the disaster.

“Our volunteers pack up their things, they leave their families, they stay here for weeks. They’re sleeping in staff shelters on cots, right next to each other. It’s very trying but these are true humanitarians and they see a need, even if it’s across the country, and they want to pitch in and help. I’ll also say that the folks in Louisiana are so touched by all of this that we’ve had an outpouring of spontaneous volunteers that just want to help their neighbors, which has been great,” she said.