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California Tribe Helps Red Cross Aid Montana Tribes

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The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced today that it has made a $200,000 charitable contribution to the American Red Cross of Montana for its ongoing relief efforts to assist American Indian communities, which have been directly affected by late spring flooding along the Little Bighorn and Missouri Rivers. Initially damage affecting the Crow Indian Reservation grew to include more than one Indian tribe and reservation, including the Fort Belknap Indian Community, and Rocky Boy and Fort Peck Indian Reservations.

 In response the American Red Cross of Montana was called into action to provide emergency relief through shelter operations, mass care, and feeding. They remain ready to assist all who need help in the coming weeks. San Manuel’s contribution is intended to support recovery and clean up efforts which continue to be hampered by a limited availability of funds and potential for more flooding as winter snows melt. In the near term, funds will be used to secure on-going shelter and the necessities of daily living for families displaced from their homes.

 “San Manuel recognizes that our brothers and sisters in Montana are facing a difficult period of recovery and want them to know that we stand by them through this process,” said San Manuel Chairman James C. Ramos. “We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the American Red Cross. They have the capability, organization and expertise to mobilize quickly and effectively when disasters strike anywhere in the world.”

Within the last week, Red Cross focus has shifted to damage assessment and clean-up in rural areas, with 301 people qualifying for individual client assistance – owing to insurmountable structural damage to homes. Also during this time, the Red Cross has distributed 2,544 clean-up and family kits to aid others currently able to restore homes to livability. But the need for ongoing support remains, with hundreds of reservation homes badly damaged or destroyed by flooding, and many residents still displaced.

Over the course of a five-week period,the American Red Cross of Montana lists 3,111 night stays for families and individuals affected by flooding. Also during this time, the organization count16,797 meals and 30,511 snacks served to help those in need of assistance meet basic needs. “At one point during the operation, we had 330 Crow people in our care under one roof, and were the largest Red Cross shelter in the national system during a year of nationwide storm devastation,” said Rod Kopp, CEO of the American Red Cross of Montana. “We did, and still do, take that responsibility seriously and pledge to help people get back on the road of recovery and a renewed quality of life.”

San Manuel has a long history of working with the American Red Cross following natural disasters and emergencies in its home state of California and beyond. San Manuel has provided funds to the American Red Cross Inland Empire Chapter to support southern California communities swept by wildfires in 2003 and 2007 and recently with floods near its San Bernardino area reservation in late 2010. In the same year San Manuel contributed $1.7 million to the Red Cross Haitian earthquake relief and $320,000 to the organization to assist tribes in Nebraska, South Dakota and Arizona with their emergency relief efforts in response to 2010 winter storms.

Residents in need assistance are asked to call the American Red Cross at 1-800-ARC-MONT.

 Story by Office of Public Affairs San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Jacob Coin

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