For Denise Parker hitting ‘send’ to her husband Anthony Parker, who is stationed in Kodiak, Alaska and serving in the US Coast Guard, was a scary proposition. Upon opening his email, he knew the next words would not be good. Thankfully, seven days after the Northern Wisconsin floods, he can chuckle about it “that’s the best she could do?” he smiled a sheepish grin knowing his wife experienced a harrowing experience and her life may have been in danger. Through the support of the American Red Cross, Services to Armed Forces Emergency Communications program, he was by her side as the reality of several feet of water in their home set in.
On July 11th, more than a foot of rain fell with several inches of rain in just over an hour. The babbling streams turned into torrent rivers, washing away roads and scaring the landscape adjacent to majestic Lake Superior.
As the water rose above her ankles, Denise knew she and the pets were in trouble. She called 9-1-1. They traveled three separate routes but could not reach her; they retreated. She felt alone. Via Facebook, her mother was able to reach a gentleman nearby with a ‘pick-up’ truck. She was rescued, with no time to spare, after she waded through chest deep water. In each hand, she carried a five-pound pet. The Great Dane wanted nothing to do with the water outside and refused to swim so he was left in the home. Her eyes filled with tears as she shared the thought of him drowning as the Marengo River now ran through her home.
Once safe, she sent an email to her husband serving on the USS Alex Haley. Fortunately, the ship was coming into dock.
She also reached out to her local American Red Cross, like she had done twice before to reach her husband serving abroad throughout the course of his career. In each instance, the Red Cross validated the emergency – a father’s illness and her surgery – for the commanders and in each instance; he was granted emergency leave to be with his family.
“Hey, don’t freak out. I’m o.k. that’s what is most important. The house is under water and the rabbits died.” As he says, “Don’t freak-out is the best she could do? She also didn’t say the water was up-to the steering wheel in my 2010 F-150 truck.” She retorts, “I could have died last night.” They can smile about it now.
For Red Cross responder, Marilyn Skrivseth, this case struck a similar cord as her first contact with the Red Cross when her brother was serving oversees and the Red Cross made an emergency connection. At first, she worked with the Parkers on the phone to begin casework.
She also encouraged them to visit the Multi-Agency Resource Center for cleaning supplies, bottled water and to garner referrals for assistance. Upon arrival, they received bottled water, cleaning supplies, bleach and more material goods. What they also received was contacts for a “muck-out” team which helps families remove the water, sludge, drywall and personal items. Any soft material will be destroyed. Knowing he has a short emergency leave, the race is on to recover from this disaster. Thankfully, due to the Red Cross support, they are not alone.
By: Barbara Behling
Photos: Marilyn Janke
Filed under: Disaster Services, Donating, North Central WI Chapter, Northwest WI Chapter, Preparedness | Tagged: American Red Cross, Coast Guard, Disaster, disaster relief, flood, Services to Armed Forces, Volunteers |