BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Craig Cooper with the American Red Cross national team in Baton Rouge was unloading the day's luggage at his volunteer shelter at the end of another busy day. Cooper, a native of New York, is in south Louisiana to spearhead the 2016 flood relief.
As people flee danger in their homes and then filter back to them once the waters recede, Cooper said the number of shelters changes rapidly. At last count Tuesday evening, there were 38 shelters in south Louisiana and just shy of 9,000 evacuees in shelters.
He has counted 500 volunteers so far, and estimates another 1,200 are on the way through the Red Cross's national team.
"We're viewing this response as the biggest response since Tropical Storm Sandy," Cooper said, "The federal government, FEMA, is seeing this a long-term recovery, first the floods, then a long grueling recovery."
Cooper has contacted 9News to put the brakes on rumor he said is rampant around some evacuees.
"We never know where the genesis is, but the bottom line, the rumor was going out that the Red Cross was giving out vouchers and they were going to be given out with different dollar values," Cooper said. "The rumor also was they were being given out at the River Center, and it was spreading to the extent that people who were not currently evacuated to the River Center would be showing up. People were coming to the River Center and asking the National Guard there asking about vouchers. When we visited there people came up to ask us when we would be giving out the vouchers."
Cooper said the "word" was that this big money give away was happening Wednesday morning. He said it's absolutely not true!
So we asked Cooper what does our money donation do for south Louisiana flood victims?
"The easiest things to visualize," he said. "We have all of these shelters, we are obviously providing the blankets, the cots the pillows, the food that we serve at shelters."
"Almost immediately starting tomorrow, we will be bringing our Emergency Response Vehicles, our 'ERVS', will start going into neighborhoods and distributing food and will continue that for a long time," Cooper said. "One of our partners is the Southern Baptists. If you remember, after Katrina, Ike, and other disasters, the Southern Baptist's are contracted to set up these massive set up mobile kitchens. They are four or five semi-trucks, and they pop up like a kid's Transformer toy and produce the food that will feed a very large crowd."
The Red Cross said its mission is to help you survive and recover from life's major disasters.