For Cincinnati flood victims, Red Cross cleanup kits carry more than just supplies
By Kristen Swilley
Cincinnati, OH (WCPO/CNN) -- Kristi Bailey was happy to be standing on dry ground Friday. By the evening, the Ohio River had gone below flood level.
It left behind mud, and more, in her East Side neighborhood.
"There's a weird smell coming from the basement because all the drainage and the river water and sewer water backing up," Bailey said.
The American Red Cross handed out supply kits Friday, to help neighbors with the dirty task ahead.
For many people, the kits carried more than just supplies: they brought a needed boost of hope.
Bailey considered herself lucky considering how badly others were flooded.
Tracy Siekbert has lived in the California neighborhood for 56 years. She's dealt with flooding before, but it's never gotten easier.
She went to sleep late one night before the water rose; when she awake six hours later, her house was surrounded, and her husband's car was submerged.
"I went on my porch with the water around my house, I thought I had a boathouse," she said.
A sewage backup, two-and-a-half feet deep, soaked Andrew Scheetz' East End basement. He picked up one of the Red Cross' 5-gallon buckets, filled with bleach, cleanser, dust masks, heavy-duty gloves, scrub brushes, a long-handled sink brush, sponges, a mop and garbage bags.
Those tools will help Scheetz disinfect his basement so mold and bacteria can't fester.
"Really, it's just a matter of picking up the pieces," he said.
The mental help is just as important as the physical help, according to Susan Routh, the Red Cross' disaster mental health team leader. People can feel overwhelmed; they've lost their belongings and don't know where to go.
But things will get better as people clean up and find a support system, she said.
"Make sure that they get some rest and they eat," Routh said, "and they give hugs to people and they get hugs."
Flood cleanup kits will be available for pickup again on Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ebersole Recreation Center, 5701 Kellogg Ave. Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency's website has more information on flood cleanup safety.
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