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Mississippi River Floods: How You Can Help

AARP state offices offer disaster plans, link volunteers

It feels like déjà vu. As thousands of residents along the Mississippi River race to evacuate their homes and businesses ahead of the flooding, the familiar refrain can be heard from Illinois to Louisiana: What do we do? And what will happen to seniors?

See also: 5 ways to prepare for the worst – and help a friend or neighbor.

Whether it's because of isolation or a lack of mobility or resources, older people often fare the worst in a natural disaster.

And those living in rural areas and small towns really take the brunt.

To minimize the damage to cities such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to open a few gates of Louisiana's Morganza Spillway and direct the floodwaters toward smaller towns.

And one year after massive rains poured down on Tennessee, causing devastating flooding, residents are once again faced with damaged homes and displacement.

In the aftermath of last year's flooding in Tennessee — which killed 24 people — about 13,000 people over age 50 applied for government disaster assistance. And more are still struggling.

To prepare residents for the floods this time around, AARP's Tennessee state office partnered with Create the Good, the association’s volunteering program, to reach out to AARP members in counties most affected by the flooding with an evacuation checklist, said Karin Miller, communications director for AARP Tennessee.

Officials in regions hurt by the disaster are urging residents who are not affected to help in any way they can.

"Over the past two months, Mississippians have been the victims of unprecedented natural disasters," AARP Mississippi Senior State Director Sherri Davis-Garner said in a statement. “At times like this, we must step up and make the needs of the victims our first priority.”

How you can help

Residents in states that are affected by the floods or anyone interested in helping are encouraged to contact AARP's call center at 866-554-5382. Representatives can connect volunteers with the nearest relief agency.