For the second time in two days, the St. Joseph Police Department sent out a citywide alert that water was covering many of Buchanan County’s roadways just after 3 p.m. Thursday.
A continual rainfall bombarded St. Joseph, leading to dozens of flash floods.
“They have already had calls this morning from houses that they’ve already been to and cleaned out, saying their basements need to be pumped out again,” Kylee Strough, the United Way of Greater St Joseph president, said. “The immediate focus the last several days has been on making sure people have a place to stay right now.”
The United Way has acted as a de facto dispatch center, connecting those who need relief with agencies providing it. One such agency, the Red Cross, has conducted hundreds of damage assessments.
“And I think we know that probably around 250 to 300 assessments have been done just on homes, so some sort of damage,” Chris Harmon, the Red Cross’ regional disaster officer, said. “The big deal with this one was that (the area) was inaccessible for a little while, so that delayed it just a little bit.”
Harmon said the Red Cross has worked with approximately 90 families during the flash floods, which have lasted about 10 days.
“And there’s more out there that we know we need to touch,” he said. “Probably another 50 or so. And during this time it’s kind of hard when folks do scatter.”
Because of COVID-19, Harmon said you won’t see the traditional images of Red Cross members donning jackets blanketing the disaster area. Instead, Harmon said the organization is reaching out to impacted persons by phone.
“I think that the St. Joe community really came together to help those impacted and it was amazing to watch and it’s amazing to be part of,” Harmon said.
Those in need of relief services can contact the United Way at 816-364-2381. Strough said a live person is available 24/7 to connect the public with resources.