Direct Relief to Send Aid to Colorado Flood Victims

Local volunteer's family waiting for rescue in flood-ravaged area

Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
POSTED: 06:27 PM PDT Sep 16, 2013    UPDATED: 06:31 PM PDT Sep 16, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The flooding in Colorado has claimed seven lives, including one woman from Lompoc who died in the swift waters. Many more are stranded, including one local man's family.

Gary Brusse was born and raised in Colorado. He's been though floods before but when he sees the footage of raging water in the rivers, he doesn't recognize them.

For 14 years Brusse has packed boxes and checked off lists of aid for people around the world. Now, he'll help pack supplies to help his home state.

Colorado has been ravaged by floods and Brusse's sister is right in the thick of it.

"She's about 500 yards from the St. Vrain River," he said. "We've been having trouble getting in touch with her. Telephones don't work, cell phones don't work."

The only communication he's had with her is a simple text message letting him know she's alright.

"The text message was that they're OK but they're stranded, they can't get out. As of Friday they were waiting for the National Guard to, I don't know, whether to rescue them or drop them supplies," said Brusse.

Direct Relief is gearing up to send whatever is needed.

"So far it's been mainly personal care items, hygiene items, toothbrushes, toothpastes. And just medical supplies that they'll need that we have an inventory for that purpose," said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief president.

Those supplies and prescription medications can be in Colorado in just one day.

"People can find themselves in crisis if they're insulin dependant and they have diabetes, if they're on a heart medication, if they have asthma. Those are the things that we are keenly sensitive to," said Tighe.

So far, there's been millions of dollars in damage and the ordeal is nowhere near done.

"And then afterwards the cleanup. They say the mud is just incredible, and that's going to be their biggest problem," said Brusse.

So far, Direct Relief has only heard from one clinic in Colorado asking for aid. But the organization is preparing for an influx of orders as more people seek help.