July 9, 2019 at 5:40 PM CDT
Updated July 9 at 5:40 PM
EAST CAPE GIRARDEAU, Ill. (Heartland News at 9) - Illinois National Guard members have dedicated a team to stock up ice, water, popsicles and other cold supplies to hand out to other Illinois National Guard, Air Guard members and residents of East Cape Girardeau.
Illinois National Guard Spc. Randi Evans said they first started giving their own National Guard members popsicles and cold drinks in the field to help keep them motivated and hydrated.
“We saw that our soldiers weren't getting the cold water, the snacks and their morale started going down," Evans stated. "So, we started with them. Then, when it came to it, the south side flooded, and we knew there were still residents here. So, we wanted to make sure their minds were at ease and that they had what they needed."
They then helped assist residents in a variety of ways including giving them cold drinks, keeping them informed on the latest news, routine welfare checks and just keeping their spirits high during their time of need.
“We have formed these connections with these people, and they trust us," Evans said. "They can come to us if they need anything, if they want anything or if they just need somebody to talk to. They know that we are here, and we are not trying to overtake their community, we are trying to be with them and help them improve this community."
Illinois National Guard Staff Sergeant Casey Cruse said it’s important to help out the residents and let them know they are fighting with them during this very long floodfight. She said the popsicles, drinks and other treats are a way to improve community relations.
“We try to show them that we care, even if it's just giving their kids popsicles and Gatorade in their favorite colors or giving them water when they're crossing the water. We stop them and give them water," Cruse said.
Cruse also serves as a nurse with residents and said they have noticed some that need that extra attention.
"We noticed a few that were having medical problems, so we wanted to check up on them," Cruse added. "We wanted to make sure that if they needed anything, that we could help them."
Heartland News followed Evans and Cruse throughout the neighborhoods in East Cape Girardeau as they handed out the cold supplies. Both residents and Illinois National Guard members said that it helps a lot.
“These little popsicles at the end of the day when we’re hot, it really helps us out,” Evans said. “It’s a nice little extra bonus them coming out here and making it fun for us. It boosts morale.”
“Our morale is really high honestly,” Cruse added. “For being here two weeks, I think our guys are really still excited to be here and it’s really awesome to see.”