"It meant the world to us. I don t know how to thank them for making her feel special during this hard time," her father, Jason Howard, tells PEOPLE.

By Rose Minutaglio
Updated January 04, 2016 03:30 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Jodi Howard

Despite the calamity of the recent Midwest floods, volunteers and neighbors came together to make sure one Pacific, Missouri, 3-year-old was not forgotten on her birthday.

Brooklyn Howard celebrated her “favorite day of the year” in a makeshift Red Cross shelter on Wednesday after rising floodwaters forced her family to evacuate their home.

Brooklyn’s mother, Jodi Howard, says residents, volunteers and friends at the Pacific shelter helped celebrate her daughter’s special day by bringing the toddler a decorated cake and presents.

Brooklyn’s birthday party was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday at a local recreation center, but the record level flooding rendered a celebration impossible.

“We were going to have a little get-together with close friends and family,” Jodi, 30, tells PEOPLE. “But the roads are all closed and people are frankly trying to piece their lives back together right now. No one had time for a birthday party.”

Jodi says she is “so touched” by the kindness people have shown her and her family during this time of tragedy and loss.

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“Everyone was so kind to throw Brooklyn that little birthday party. It meant the world to us. I don t know how to thank them for making her feel special during this hard time,” says Jodi. “I was in tears and just so, so happy.”

The little girl’s father, Jason Howard, says his daughter understands that her house is underwater, but didn t quite grasp the “reality of the situation.”

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“She keeps saying, ‘My house is underwater!'” Jason, 30, tells PEOPLE. “But she only knows that she should be feeling sad. So when everyone started bringing her birthday gifts, she got so giddy.”

The adoring dad says his daughter, who is a “girly girl down to the core,” received a life-size stuffed pink dog, princess dress-up attire and a pair of fuzzy slippers from people at the shelter.

“The whole day random people were bringing her gifts! People we’d never seen,” he says. “I don t even know where they got the presents, because nothing was open and all the roads were closed. It was like some kind of birthday miracle.”