Photos and story by Axl David, Red Cross Contributor 

Just two days after the one-year anniversary of the ‘Great Flood of June 2018’, the disaster repeated itself as many Rio Grande Valley residents woke up to widespread wind damage and water as high as three feet.  

“It rained all day, and when I woke up the next morning the whole street was flooded,” said Janie Alvarado, lifelong Raymondville resident, “We were stuck at home for three days, but only lost power for a short time.” 

Confined to her home due to high water, she tried to keep others in the community in the loop as volunteers spread out across the Valley to provide meals, water, and cleaning supplies. 

“On social media, whenever I saw where Red Cross was, I would spread the word,” said Alvarado.

Once the water receded, the former elementary school teacher wasted no time getting out and helping her community. She got started by picking up food from the Sebastian Fire Department, where volunteers were serving lunch and dinner, and delivering it to her neighbors.

When a series of Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC) locations were opening, drawing on her deep roots in the community and familiarity with the local culture, she showed up to greet those seeking assistance and guide them through the process. 

Amid a busy scene at the Willacy County MARC, Site Director Nancy Franceschi acknowledged Alvarado’s hard work and asked if she’d be interested in helping at the Hidalgo County MARC scheduled the next day. 

“Sure, what time?” asked Alvarado. 

Franceschi smiles and asks timidly, “7:15?” Alvarado smiles back and writes it down on a piece of paper. 

Early the next day, Alvarado is back, this time with a Red Cross vest. She welcomes weary residents who are lined up at the door. During a brief slow period later in the afternoon, Alvarado grabs a trash can and pushes it through the crowd to pick up discarded water bottles and empty bags of chips.

“[Janie] helped tremendously with everything, she really helped clients through the process,” said Franceschi, “she’s a good speaker and a role model for local volunteers.” 

“Red Cross volunteers are like family now, it’s like we’ve all known each other for years. They hug me, remember my name, and always thank me for helping,” said Alvarado, “I tell them, no, thank you for helping my community.”