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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Aunt, niece, and great-niece find safety at Iowa Red Cross shelter

By Kim Mailes, American Red Cross

“We thought our home was going to escape the flooding,” Melissa Kruser said, “but then the waters came rushing into the garage and turned the basement into a swimming pool —it ruined everything, and we couldn’t stay.”

Still unable to return to her home two weeks after the flooding, Kruser, along with her niece Rebecca Miller and her great-niece, ten-month-old Ember Rose, continue to find safety at the American Red Cross shelter in Spencer, Iowa. There they find a safe place to sleep and receive three meals each day, along with comfort and care from Red Cross Disaster Mental Health and Spiritual Care volunteers.

Photo: Melissa Kruser and her great niece Ember Rose

“If the Red Cross hadn’t set up this shelter, I don’t know what we would have done,” Kruser said. “I have family, but they don’t live near here. We wouldn’t have any place else to go.”


Since the disaster relief operation began, over 320 trained Red Cross volunteers have been on ground, providing nearly 4,000 overnight stays for those displaced by the flooding. More than 57,000 meals have been served to those affected. Red Cross disaster assessment teams are out and continue to survey the affected area.

Photo: Rebecca Miller and Ember Rose

Little Ember Rose toddled between the cots as lunch was being served at the shelter, and Red Cross volunteers were busy providing for the needs of the residents. More than 120 people arrived at the shelter immediately after the disaster; and two weeks later, dozens of people still unable to return home continue to seek safety there.


The Red Cross is responding to disasters all across the country this summer. If you’d like to help others in times of need, go to to find out how to become a volunteers.

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