Red Cross Launches Huge Tornado Relief Response

Shelters open in 11 states to help people in the path of the storms

The American Red Crosshas launched a large relief operation across 11 states to help people affected by yesterday’s devastating tornado outbreak in the South and Midwest. Weather experts reported as many as 95 confirmed tornadoes touched down, destroying communities from the Great Lakes to the Southeast.

Harrisburg, IL resident, Cindy Fark, receives a hug from a Red Cross Disaster volunteer, Ann Corbin after describing the tornado coming through her neighborhood. Photo Credit: Tammie Pech/American Red Cross

“Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this week’s severe storms,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Disaster Services. “Our top priorities right now are making sure people have a safe place to stay, a warm meal and a shoulder to lean on as they begin to clean up their neighborhoods. The Red Cross is also working closely with our government and community partners to make sure everyone gets the help they need.”Friday night, the Red Cross opened or supported 22 shelters in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Across the affected states, trained Red Cross disaster workers are mobilizing to begin feeding operations and distribution of relief supplies. Red Cross health services and mental health workers also will be out in neighborhoods help people cope with what they’ve seen and experienced. And damage assessment teams will also help the Red Cross and our partners discover the full scope of the damage.

If someone would like to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes and floods, they can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting http://www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Locate a shelter. People can find Red Cross shelters by contacting local emergency officials, visiting www.redcross.org, or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). iPhone users can download a free Red Cross shelter view app from the app store.

Those affected can let loved ones know they are safe by registering on the secure Red Cross Safe and Well website, where they can also update their Facebook and Twitter status. If you don’t have computer access, you can also register by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Loved ones outside the disaster area can use Safe and Well to find information about loved ones in the affected areas by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Smart phone users can visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for friends and family” link.

Follow safety steps. As people begin to deal with the aftermath of the tornadoes, the Red Cross reminds people they should return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so. They should also:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings and immediately report any fallen power lines or broken gas lines to the utility companies.
  • Use flashlights, not candles when examining buildings. If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window, get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department.

More tornado safety information is available on the Preparedness Section of the Red Cross website.

You can help people affected by disasters like floods and tornadoes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Red Cross Responds to Southern Spring Storms and Rising Red River in North Dakota

Red Cross Disaster efforts span 13 states in just the past week

Dempsey Brady and his family gathered in the hallway as the storms from Monday night ripped through the Ellisville, MS area. They were safely in the hallway when the storm tore the roof off of their home. They were very thankful for the Red Cross visiting with them to meet their immediate emergency needs.

Today, the American Red Cross is responding across the South after severe spring storms affected hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. At the same time, Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in North Dakota and Minnesota as the Red River continues to rise. In fact, since late March, the Red Cross has played a role in 14 disaster events in 13 states across the nation.

“Red Cross workers are helping people across the South whose homes were damaged by the recent storms, or who have no power to stay warm or cook meals for their family,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “At the same time we have trained workers and relief supplies in place in North Dakota and Minnesota, supporting the local volunteers who are fighting to protect their neighborhoods from the rising Red River.”

Wild spring storms damaged homes, downed trees and cut out power overnight in many areas of the South. Red Cross chapters opened shelters to offer people a safe place to stay and deployed disaster teams and response vehicles throughout the damaged communities. Red Cross workers are feeding emergency responders and people affected by the storms, and distributing items to help residents clean up the storm damage.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross has set up headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota to provide meals and mental emotional support as the Red River threatens to overflow its banks. More than 50 Red Cross disaster workers are either on the ground already, or en route to the Red River Valley. Ten Red Cross emergency vehicles have been deployed to the area to help with mobile feeding and distribution of clean-up items and basic necessities like toothbrushes and soap. The Red Cross has already served more than 157,000 meals in support of sandbagging efforts.

April’s severe weather has kept Red Cross disaster workers busy. This latest disaster response comes on the heels of the Red Cross assisting people in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Texas where wildfires burned thousands of acres, destroyed homes and forced people to evacuate from their neighborhoods. The Red Cross opened shelters for those who had to leave their homes and provided food and refreshments for emergency responders.

Red Cross disaster workers were also on the scene in Florida after tornadoes, thunderstorms, high winds and flooding damaged homes and left thousands without power. Red Cross chapters throughout the state responded, opening shelters, providing food and drinks for emergency responders, and deploying emergency vehicles to distribute clean-up items to those affected by the storms.

The American Red Cross responds to as many as 200 disasters a day in the United States. This assistance helps people affected by larger emergencies such as the severe weather occurring across the country, or a family whose home is destroyed by fire. The Red Cross also continues to help the people of Japan and support the residents of Haiti. If you would like to help, you can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999. You can also mail your contribution to your local chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.       

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.

 

Fast Facts: Spring Storms Response

The following information shows our total service delivery across Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma since the beginning of the severe weather events in April:

  • Shelters opened: 63
  • Shelter Overnight Stays: 9,608
  • Clean up kits:  23,715
  • Comfort kits: 12,344
  • Meals served: 189,867
  • Snacks served: 254,754
  • Emergency Response Vehicles on the ground: 113
  • Mental Health Consultations: 10,488
  • Health Services Consultations: 8,351
  • 1-866-GET-INFO calls: 5,253
  • Total Red Cross Workers: 4,674 (4,287 volunteers)

Stats as of May 27, 2010

American Red Cross Responds to Historic Southern Floods

People can send a $10 donation to help those affected by disasters across the country by texting ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999

Photo by: Beth Ferguson on Sunday May 2nd at the Smyrna Towne Center Red Cross Shelter in Smyrna, TN

WASHINGTON, Monday, May 3, 2010

—The American Red Cross has opened more than two dozen shelters in response to a powerful weather system that generated tornadoes and caused severe flooding across the South.

As of Monday morning, the Red Cross and its partners had 28 shelters open across the South, including Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee. Tennessee was particularly hard hit, with some areas in the state receiving as much as a foot of rain, leading to numerous road closures and forcing evacuations. Nearly 1,000 Tennesseans stayed at a shelter on Sunday night.

“We’re just at the beginning of this relief operation, and until the water begins to recede we won’t know just how much damage has occurred,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president of disaster services at the Red Cross. “Right now we’re focused on providing meals and a safe place to stay, but the Red Cross will be there for the long haul to help people get back on their feet.” 

The Red Cross activated a mobile giving text donation effort today to enable interested people to make a $10 text donation to help people affected by disasters like the recent floods and tornadoes.     

Customers of participating wireless carriers can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Donations will appear on customers’ monthly bills or be debited from a prepaid account balance. Message and data rates may apply. Depending on the carrier, individuals can donate two or three times per month. The Red Cross is working with mGive to process and facilitate the mobile donations.

Floods are typically long-term relief operations, given that waters can take days to recede and can wreak devastating damage on homes.

As heavy rains continue across the South, the Red Cross encourages people in the affected area to register themselves and their loved ones on the Safe and Well Web site, to allow family and friends around the country to know of their status:

  • Visit redcross.org, and click on the Safe and Well link.
  • If you are currently being affected by this disaster, click: “List Myself as Safe and Well,” enter your pre-disaster address and phone number, and select any of the standard message options.
  • If you are concerned about a loved one, click “Search” and enter the person’s name and pre-disaster phone number OR address. If they have registered, you will be able to view the messages that they posted.
  • If you don’t have internet access, you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register yourself and your family. Follow the prompts for disaster information.

To find the location of open shelters, please visit redcross.org and click on the “Find a Shelter” link.

Time is of the essence in any disaster, and the Red Cross is able to respond immediately to the needs of individuals and families impacted by disaster anywhere in the United States, regardless of cost, thanks to donations by members of the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP).

Members of the Annual Disaster Giving Fund are Altria Group, American Express, AXA Foundation, ConAgra Foods, FedEx Corporation, GE Foundation, General Motors Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, John Deere Foundation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Merck, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, Ryder Charitable Foundation, State Farm, State Street Foundation, Target, The TJX Companies, Inc., UnitedHealthcare and UPS.

Help people affected by disasters like the recent floods and tornadoes in the South, by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for disasters and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; provides 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.