Aid Organizations Help Rockford Residents Clean Up

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Sunday was another stressful day for flood victims, as Mother Nature dumped more rain on the Rockford area. Thankfully, it looks like the area has been able to withstand the added water. Meanwhile, the scope of the flood continues to grow.

Right now, the number stands at 230 people affected. The Red Cross is working in conjunction with the Salvation Army to help make those people's lives easier. So far, they have handed out more than 800 meals and needless to say, clean-up kits are flying out the door. Three emergency response unit vehicles are continuing to patrol the area.

Demand for the Red Cross's services has been so great that they are temporarily moving their headquarters to the Hallstrom Center over on 17th Ave. The building is filled with everything crews will need to help victims ranging from food and water to cleaning supplies. Families can also stop by to talk to someone about the emotions and feelings they are going through.

A cleanup job of this magnitude requires a lot of manpower, and for that the Red Cross is getting a little help from their friends. 80 volunteers from around the Midwest are in town helping flood victims get their lives back in order. Many have been in town since earlier this week distributing supplies and going in to residents' homes to help clean up. Those volunteers say the flood victims' reaction makes all the hard work worthwhile.

"We don't get paid, so our big payoff is the hugs, the thank yous, warm fuzzies. That's what we go home with that makes it worthwhile," says Gene Laubengayer, a Red Cross volunteer from Madison, WI.

Volunteers hail from Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in addition to Illinois.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is setting up their most high-tech tool to help flood victims. It's called an emergency communications response vehicle, or ECRV. It allows crews to set up satellite, telephone, computer and radio communications. This way, crews in the field can talk directly to leaders at its national headquarters in Washington.

"Acts of nature, you cannot predict. You just got to respond to it, make the best of a bad situation," says Gerald Kelly, an ECRV operator.

The ECRV is one of nine in the nation. This one comes from Louisville.

If you would like to help out or make a donation, call the Red Cross at 963-8471 or log on to its website at Volunteers will man the Hallstrom Center from 9-6 pm on Monday and will stay there until their services are no longer needed.