Cleaning up after a flood can be a daunting task, but the American Red Cross can help.
The Loess Hills Chapter is distributing thousands of cleanup kits at no cost to affected families in Nebraska and Iowa.
As of last week more than 1,200 had been given to residents of Pottawattamie, Mills, Fremont and Harrison Counties in Iowa and Douglas, Sarpy, Cass and Washington Counties in Nebraska, said Jill Orton, the chapter's executive director.
"It provides that mental jump-start to recovery," she said. "It's very much like the Red Cross always (says): Do you have a plan? Have you made a kit? Are you informed? ... Are you ready to help yourself and your family and thus be part of a resilient community and able to bounce back after disaster?"
The kits consist of a bucket with rubber gloves, a sponge, a scrubber, degreaser and Clorox, as well as a box with a broom, a mop and other items with long handles.
"We will have a warehouse of items ... all the way through spring," Orton said.
The money for the kits comes from part of a $515,000 grant from the Iowa West Foundation. One of the foundation's priorities is addressing such need, said Jerry Mathiasen, the foundation's interim president and CEO.
"People often forget that, after a disaster, families are still trying to pick up the pieces," Mathiasen said. "Nonprofit agencies and their volunteers are really key in assisting these families in their efforts to return to normalcy."
Also available from the Red Cross: a cooler containing a few gallons of bleach; garbage bags; work gloves; face masks; hand sanitizer; bug spray; and sunscreen.
To get a kit, go to your local Red Cross office; if one is not available, contact county emergency management officials or visit a Red Cross office in Council Bluffs or Omaha.
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