Editor's Note: The shelter at Winfield High School has now been closed down due to floodwaters receding.
Local levees and the sandbagging efforts by residents were the only thing protecting the city of Winfield from the floodwaters. Now the town’s citizens are facing the aftermath of flooding, with part of the town still under water, many have been evacuated from their homes and were forced to interrupt their daily lives. The Winfield School District readily opened its arms to the community, offering what they could: a dry place to live temporarily for nineteen residents displaced by the flood. The school district has been working with the American Red Cross in order to have all the means necessary to support those affected by the flood water.
Kayce Dunn and Heather Dixon are two residence at the shelter. They have both lived in this area for most of their lives, and have recent graduates from Winfield High School. Their house was overtaken by the floodwater, giving them no choice but to leave. They have since moved in to the shelter as a place to call, temporary, home.
“The community has really helped out a lot, everyone is lending a hand to each other and doing what can be done right now,” said Dunn. With the water stagnant most people still can not reach their homes. Within the community, people are offering boat rides to those that can not reach their homes. The water has caused mass power outages, evacuation of homes and farms, as well as the normal day to cease to exist.
“We are just trying to get our house back, but right now just living day by day,” said Dixon. The Red Cross supplies food, clothing and supplies to those in the community and the 19 displaced people.
“The Red Cross has helped us a lot, they gave us a place to go when we had nowhere else,” said Dunn.
“They have given us our lives back,” Dixon added.
Marcia Burthel serves as the day supervisor for the Red Cross Winfield Flood Relief Shelter. She is originally from St. Louis, but currently lives in South Carolina.
“The Red Cross calls and asks me to help when disaster strikes, but this one was so close to where I grew up, of course I wanted to come here,” said Burthel.
She has been a part of the Red Cross for three years, she started in 2016 when the hurricane hit South Carolina.
“I saw an ad posted by the Red Cross, saying that they needed help packing trucks and I realized that this was one way I could help,” said Burthel. Since then she has been traveling over the county as a part of the Red Cross.
“We are deployed from all over the country and just asked to come where the help is needed,” said Burthel. At the Winfield shelter there are currently seven Red Cross members, hailing from Virginia, Utah, Tennessee and other states as well. From there, the Red Cross calls on its members to help in affected areas.
“Each place we go, we are doing different things to help, here we are giving people a place to stay, meals everyday and other supplies that they had to leave behind in their homes,” said Burthel. The Salvation Army has come to offer cleanup kits to residence that can get back to their homes as well as case workers meeting with people to help them in any way possible.
“There is a nurse on-staff 24/7 for the residents we have here, as well as anyone that needs help within the community, we provide basic medical care for people such as providing a walker or cane, as well as tetanus shots,” said Burthel.
The community has really come together during this time donating supplies, food and clothing to the shelter, the volunteer said.
“In this town, everyone knows everyone and have been so supportive of one another during this time,” said Burthel. The Red Cross provides meals for the residence by buying the food.
“One thing that the Red Cross really works with the community is buying locally to put money back into the town,” said Burthel.
Between the 19 daily residents, the people they have provided medical care for and the ones that they have just given a meal, there is no way to keep track of the number of people the Red Cross has helped during this time.
The Red Cross and the Winfield School District have had their doors opened to anyone in need for about two and a half weeks.
“What most people don’t realize it that even though this happens, people still need to live their daily lives. “People are trying to get back to what they were doing and I think that is the hardest part,” said Burthel.