Assistance available to residents impacted by flooding

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Local programs offer relief money to Houstonians recovering from recent flooding events.

Dana Watson won't forget April 18th. It's the date she lost everything she owned.

"I told my sister, 'You're going to stay here, or you're going to walk,'" she said. "Because you don't have any help."

She waded through that water and then swam upstream against what she called a complicated system of relief.

"It's not easy at all," she explained of the paperwork and phone calls needed to get help. "It's a headache. It's stressful. It's painful. You're going to want to give up. You just have to keep your head above water basically."

PHOTOS: Flooding across southeast Texas

She is among the 171 families who've received a portion of the $400,000 the city directly doled out after the Tax Day floods. There is another $1.5 million now administered through various charities led by the United Way.

Today the CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail J. McGovern, was here to see the damage and offer support.

"Mother Nature can really be cruel and she certainly has been cruel to the state of Texas, " said McGovern.

But even with phone numbers and websites to access, it is still not easy for those still needing help. Mayor Sylvester Turner suggests calling 2-1-1 or going to HoustonRecovers.Org.

"We're just trying not to duplicate," he said. "So what FEMA is doing the Red Cross won't do. What FEMA is doing, the Greater Houston Relief Fund won't do. But we can supplement one another to try and provide a much assistance to people throughout the region."

Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson suggests the easiest way to get help is to go to one of the Red Cross shelters directly and speak with someone in person.

"If you go to a Red Cross shelter," she explained, "they can help determine whether FEMA is in place, where the Red Cross is in place, where the other resources are in place. So if you are so very frustrated, if you can, make your way to one of the shelters."

Dana Watson now has a new apartment. The relief fund paid the first month's rent and her deposit. Until then, she was homeless for a month. She said she kept rowing until she reached dry land.

"It's all up to you," she said. " Basically you can make your bed or you can still be in that position. That's how I'm looking at it."
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