The Red Cross is defending its response to March flooding in the DeForest area.

In the wake of criticism leveled at the organization in an after-action report from village officials, the Red Cross praised the work of its volunteers.

“Our volunteers from Dane County were proud to be there for our neighbors in need,” said Justin Kern, communications officer for the American Red Cross of Wisconsin.

Going forward, the Red Cross is looking to make sure its partnership with the village remains strong. Both parties have talked about having a meeting to go over what services the Red Cross offers and to figure out how best deliver them to those in need.

“We are always open to learning ways to get better and sharing other ways to connect and make stuff happen and make sure everyone is taken care of,” said Kern.

Kern said the Red Cross was ready to provide assistance at reception centers, such as the senior center and village hall, and the high school as a standby during the March 14-15 flooding event. Kern said the Red Cross did help out in two cases where residents required temporary lodging. One involved a family of six. Another was a single person.

“It was definitely a fast-moving situation over those two days,” said Kern.

Kern said Red Cross volunteers were ready to step in and help make sure residents had some place to go if they needed it.

The Red Cross’s efforts in DeForest were part of a wider response to flooding statewide, noted Kern. In the area, he said there were reception centers in Columbus, Lodi and at Sauk Prairie High School.

Kern also said the Red Cross distributed more than 40 clean-up kits to DeForest area residents. About 20 were brought to the reception center initially.

“Those went fast,” said Kern. “We came back out and put in a request for more.”

The kits include a collapsible mop, bleach, a squeegee, garbage bags and a plastic bucket to fill up with trash and waste. The Red Cross brought more kits back to the area on March 26.

Kern said the situation was challenging.

“They call them disasters for a reason,” said Kern. “They’re chaotic and no two are ever the same.”

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