*A story from my current Red Cross deployment to Mapleton, Iowa...
Fifty-two year old Cynthia Bursaw says she is the lucky one. Some might disagree by looking at her situation.
To the eye Cynthia just lost everything: her home split in half, its roof peeled off and her belongings thrown across not only her front yard but the neighborhood. But it wasn't the things in the house that mattered to her. It was the people.
When Saturday nights tornado sirens went off in Mapleton, Iowa Cynthia quickly ran outside to pull her cars into the garage. As she got out of her car she saw the EF3 tornado coming down the road. She quickly joined her two sons and their cats under the staircase in their basement.
They held on for-dear-life as the tornado sucked the roof off of thier house and took most of their belongings with it. After the dust and the skeleton of their home settled around them- they quickly realized that the were trapped under the rubble. Luckily she had grabbed her cell phone before she went into the basement so she was able to call 9-1-1 for help. Around 45 minutes later emergency responders came to dig them out.
Cynthia said they are the lucky ones. They can salvage a few of their belongings...but that wasn’t what is important to her. "I got my kids and that's all that matters," Cynthia said.
So what's next for the Bursaws? When asked Cynthia teared up and said she had no idea. She was taking things one-step at a time. Her first priority was taking care of her boys. Finding them new clothes was next on her list.
When Red Cross client caseworkers Kate Ellrich and Susan Schwartz, from the Heartland Regional Grouping, told Cynthia they would help make sure her family had what they needed- she cried with relief.
Kate and Susan didn't only offer her Red Cross assistance today- they offered compassion, love and hope to a single mother who repetitively thanked them for it.
"Thank you so much," Cynthia kept saying. "This was so much bigger than what I could do alone. It's so great you are here to help."
That is what the Red Cross is here for. To offer hope in heartbreak and compassion in your time of need. As the impact of disaster is still unfolding, the Red Cross is there.
You can help those affected by the disaster by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.