PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thousands of volunteers are heading south where a state of emergency is in effect for parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest at levels not seen since The Great Flood of 1937.

More than 1,000 homes in Memphis, Tenn., area are expected to flood and police are asking families to move to shelters.

Now, a local Red Cross volunteer is going to help run one of those shelters. The Red Cross in Pittsburgh has already sent 10 volunteers to hard hit southern states.

Despite laying down more than 100,000 sand bags, thousands of western Tennessee residents will likely have to evacuate their homes by midweek when the Mississippi River is expected to reach the highest crest it’s seen in 84 years.

“It’s very dangerous right now and they’re not expecting the river to crest until Wednesday, which means if it’s high today, come Wednesday, the devastation will be that much greater,” said Theresa Creighan, of the local chapter of the Red Cross.

Creighan, of Oakmont, will fly to Memphis Sunday morning where she expects to stay for three weeks, living in the same type of shelters as the evacuees they’ll be helping.

“The job I’m going to will have staff shelters, so we’ll be staying in an old either Sam’s Club or a hotel that has a big ballroom and it’ll be a staff shelter,” said Creighan.

Creighan just got back from spending two weeks in North Carolina helping tornado victims.

The trip to Memphis will be here 35th such trip for the Red Cross in six years. She says her husband and four children understand.

“You know, there was a time when my family and I needed help, and we had help. For us to be able to do that, my family’s gracious enough to allow me to go and they take care of themselves while I’m gone. So, I do it to pay it forward,” she said.

The shelters that will open in Tennessee will bring the total to about 150 Red Cross shelters that have opened up in the last few weeks in the southern states.

When these volunteers go, they have to spend two or three weeks in the disaster areas, so it can be physically and mentally draining, which is why it helps to have veterans such as Creighan there to help organize and facilitate.

Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter of American Red Cross
National Weather Service
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