Local Red Cross Responder Shares Missouri Stories

By Max Seigle, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

New Year’s Eve in an American Red Cross shelter, a few 30-hour shifts and helping a woman on oxygen cope with a mandatory evacuation. Those were just a few of the powerful experiences for Becky Tiles during a two-week disaster deployment to   Missouri.

missouri blogTiles, of Oshkosh, spent most of her time in Manchester, Missouri near St. Louis. She served as a shelter supervisor at the Manchester United Methodist Church. The church turned into an emergency shelter for area residents, who were forced to evacuate their homes while authorities monitored nearby levies.

In late December, rising river levels in Missouri triggered hundreds of evacuations and severe flooding. As of this week, the Red Cross had opened 12 shelters across the state with nearly 600 overnight stays. Shelter volunteers have also served more than 31,000 meals and snacks.

“You talk with them but you also do a lot of mental health, a lot of encouraging them and helping them to look ahead,” Tiles said in a recent interview with Red Cross Public Affairs.

Tiles said her shelter operated around the missouri blog 1clock, with volunteers doing 12-hour shifts. There were some days, however, where she had to pull 30-hour days to make sure there were always two people on staff.

“Someone has to be there and I would never leave the shelter or the scene without adequate coverage,” Tiles said. “It just wouldn’t be the right thing for the shelter manager to do, when it has to be done, it has to be done. I feel pretty strongly about that.”

The shelter offered clients a safe place to sleep, eat and clean up, and also get updates on when they could return home. Tiles spent New Year’s Eve with residents and brought decorations, lemonade and cookies to celebrate.

“It really brought us together,” she said. “It was really a heart-warming moment because people weren’t at home and they were missing out on their own activities. I think we all had tears in our eyes after we sat around drinking our lemonade.”

Tiles also recalled helping a middle-aged woman with an oxygen tank, who showed up to the shelter with her cat. She said the cat was able to stay in a Humane Society trailer outside and Tiles gave the owner a stuffed animal to sleep with in place of her pet. “She just adored that,” Tiles said. She also remembers some tough moments with that woman.

“Just talking with her and crying with her and saying this is where you need to be, this is the safest place you need to be and taking care of her. Her medical needs were important,” Tiles said.

Red Cross shelters offer nurses on staff to help clients with immediate medical needs. Their expertise is just one part of a comprehensive package of emergency services offered by the Red Cross. From her experience in Missouri, Tiles said the clients appreciate the assistance.missouri blog 2

“They repeat over and over again, I don’t know what I would do without you having been here. They really meant it,” Tiles said.

This national deployment to Missouri was the first one for Tiles. She says she’d do it again and would be open to new roles, like case work.

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