Written by Patricia Kemp, communications manager, American Red Cross
Tina Branham was at home with her three kids October 3 when the rain began to fall. She logged into Facebook to check out the social media chatter. Severe weather was the hot topic in South Carolina.
The rain was relentless and water started to rise on the driveway. “I wanted to get out before we had to swim out,” said Tina, who is pregnant with her fourth child. “I was like, it’s time to go because if I wait any longer, I can’t carry three kids by myself. If I stayed it would’ve caused more stress for my family.”
Tina’s husband works nights in a Georgia factory, and wasn’t able to reach her and their children Thomas, 10, Christopher, 7, and 7-month-old baby girl, Laila. Tina remained calmed and assured him she would get the kids out of the house. She started planning an exit strategy and turned again to social media to see what she should do and where she could go. She clicked on the American Red Cross Lowcountry South Carolina Facebook page and got some answers.
Tina packed a bag of clothes for each of the kids and headed to the nearest shelter the high school in Summerville the Red Cross told her about on Facebook. They were the first to arrive.
Tina found volunteers were just as friendly face-to-face as they are online.
“The Red Cross has been so nice to us,” she said. “We found a place where people can come and feel comfortable and lift their spirits a little bit since they kind of got ripped from their house.”
Over the next several days, nearly 100 more people displaced by the flood began filling the shelter and Tina helped them navigate the new terrain. She also allowed them to help themselves to her stash of supplies.
“I gave another mother some diapers and my Red Cross blanket,” she said.
Tina called her husband once the kids were settled to let him know they were safe, and of course she updated her Facebook status for all her friends.