American Red Cross Responds Across the Country to Wildfires, Floods and Tornadoes

Dozens of shelters open to support affected residents

WASHINGTON, September 6, 2011 — The American Red Cross provided food and shelter for more than 1,000 people around the country Monday night from multiple disasters, including residents impacted by wildfires in Texas and Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which left severe weather in its wake over the Labor Day weekend.

In Texas, more than 450 residents spent Monday night in 10 Red Cross shelters as wildfires burned hundreds of homes and forced residents to evacuate. The Red Cross disaster response in Texas now joins multiple other Red Cross operations underway across the U.S. in response to floods, other wildfires and tornadoes.

Tornadoes spawned by remnants of Lee damaged homes and caused evacuations in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee on Monday, leading the Red Cross to open shelters in all three states. Red Cross shelters were also opened in Louisiana and Mississippi as Lee dumped torrential rain on the Gulf Coast. Heavy rains and extensive flooding are expected to continue as Lee’s remnants expand northeast into the Tennessee Valley and central Appalachian mountains through Tuesday.    

The Red Cross is also continuing to help people impacted by Hurricane Irene. To date, the Red Cross has served more than 1.6 million meals and snacks and provided approximately 58,000 overnight shelter stays since the storm made landfall on August 27. The Red Cross is also distributing supplies to help residents who are cleaning up homes damaged by Irene’s wind, rain and floods. So far, the Red Cross has given out more than 516,000 relief items such as hygiene kits, mops, brooms, tarps, work gloves and coolers.

“Right now our focus is making sure people forced from their homes by floods and wildfires have a safe place to stay and a good meal,” said Charley Shimanski, Red Cross senior vice president of disaster services. “The Red Cross works year-round to be prepared to help people affected by emergencies, and that’s why we’re able to respond to so many disasters at one time.”

The Red Cross currently has disaster relief operations active in more than a dozen states, and current estimates for Red Cross relief for Hurricane Irene alone are from $10 million to $15 million.

Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; you can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross,P.O. Box 37243,Washington,DC20013.

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Hurricane Irene – North Carolina Update

Rosendale man heads east with Red Cross

James Patrenets of Rosendale heads out east as an American Red Cross volunteer to prepare for disaster assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Patrenets departed on Friday in an Emergency Response Vehicle. (Patrick Flood/The Reporter)

Written by Sharon Roznik The Reporter

Area volunteers with the American Red Cross departed Friday, heading east to support Hurricane Irene preparations and response.

Among them is James Patrenets, 63, of Rosendale, who is driving an Emergency Response Vehicle that traveled from Stevens Point and picked him up around noon at the Fond du Lac Red Cross headquarters, 272 N. Main St.

Emblazoned with the red and white colors of the Red Cross, the ERV will be loaded with food products that can be delivered to neighborhoods after Hurricane Irene hits land and passes through, said Steve Hansen, Red Cross regional chapter executive for Northeast Wisconsin.

 Irene is predicted to be the largest storm to hit the East Coast in more than 70 years and could threaten big population centers. The focus is on North Carolina.

More than 200 Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles, including another from Green Bay, are heading toward the coast to help people in the path of the storm.

 “With disasters of this magnitude, we deploy resources to provide canteen services to people affected by the storm,” Hansen said.

 The ERV’s and volunteers will arrive at a staging area along the East Coast. After damages are assessed, the vehicles will move in to affected areas, Hansen said.

 Volunteers will remain in the area for up to three weeks.

 For those with friends and family living along the East Coast, the Red Cross has set up Safe and Well, a secure easy-to-use online tool to help connect families in an emergency. People can register by visiting the Red Cross website or calling 1 (800) RED CROSS (1 (800) 733-2767).

 Donations can be made by visiting www.redcross.org.

Red Cross Begins Large Relief Operation

Urges People To Listen To Local Evacuation Orders

Editorial note: Call (202) 303-5551 to speak with an American Red Cross spokesperson on the groundVisit the Red Cross Disaster Online Newsroom for hurricane preparedness and response information, including photos, video and press releases.

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles are staging near Raleigh NC before Hurricane Irene's expected landfall. ERV crews stocked up Thursday with bottled water and snacks at a local warehouse store.

The American Red Cross has launched a major relief operation all along the eastern seaboard to help people in the path of Hurricane Irene. More than 13,000 people spent Friday night in hundreds of shelters opened across several states. Many more shelters are set to open throughout the weekend as the storm moves to the north.

 “We are putting the full force of the Red Cross behind our response,” said Gail McGovern, Red Cross President and CEO. People need to listen to local authorities and evacuate if told to do so. Many areas could be inaccessible after the storm and first responders won’t be able to get in right away or offer services. People need to leave when told and plan on caring for their loved ones for at least 72 hours.”

Thousands of Red Cross disaster workers are helping people fromNorth CarolinatoNew England. More than 200 emergency response vehicles have been mobilized, and tens of thousands of prepackaged meals moved into the area. Volunteers from partner organizations like AmeriCorps NCCC and the Southern Baptist Convention are working alongside Red Cross volunteers in some areas.

People trying to find a shelter should listen to their local media for shelter locations near them. They can also locate a shelter at www.redcross.org, or by downloading the free Red Cross shelter app on iTunes. Those affected by the storm can let friends and family know where they are by registering on the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org. They can also call a family member or friend with internet access and ask them to do their registration.

Those heading to shelters should bring extra clothing, pillows, blankets, medications, personal hygiene items and important documents. They should remember special items for children infants such as diapers, formulas and toys, along with necessary items for family members who are elderly or disabled. People should not leave their pets behind, but the Red Cross cannot accept pets in its shelters except for service animals for people with disabilities. People should check if organizations are setting up animal shelters. Red Cross chapters have lists of pet-friendly hotels, kennels, veterinarians and animal welfare agencies that can accept pets during a disaster. It’s important to make sure pets are wearing secure collars with up-to-date identification.

Irene has forced the cancellation of dozens of blood collections along the East Coast. The Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by this storm and asks that people in the affected areas consider donating blood once the storm passes through and it’s safe to do so.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

If someone would like to help, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. They can also send contributions to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross,P.O. Box 37243,Washington,DC20013.

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.