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      Local Red Cross Director returns from helping with Hurricane Isaac relief efforts

      A Heartland Red Cross Director returns from southern Mississippi, where he helped with hurricane relief efforts for Hurricane Isaac.

      Deane Valkenaar, the Executive Director of the North Central Missouri Chapter of Red Cross, went to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to help with the coordination of getting supplies, food, and shelter to evacuees in Mississippi.

      He said there were about 5,000 people evacuated in Mississippi during the first couple of days when Category 2 Hurricane Isaac reached the gulf coast.

      Valkenaar said flooding is a major issue.

      "We had one situation where they were afraid the dam was going to breach and that would've necessitated evacuation of 35-50,000 people," said Valkenaar. "It never did. They were able to control it and they actually breached it on a control basis. There was another incident where there were some locks on a river that were leaking and they thought those were going to break. It's a constant...,just because the storm passes doesn't mean the danger is over."

      Valkenaar said it will be a long time before evacuees can return to normal.

      "There's still, it's going to take them a long time to get back to where they were...to get back to normal," said Valkenaar. "There was a lot of flooding. Flood damage is not something that is easily cleared up. It's going to take a long time before they completely recover."

      After working 12 hour days for two weeks, Valkenaar returned to Kirksville on Sept. 6. He said one of the toughest things about hurricane relief efforts is that you never know where the storm will hit so it makes it difficult to plan for.

      This is the second time Valkenaar has volunteered to help with hurricane relief efforts.