American Red Cross Responds to Massive Winter Storm

Shelters open; blood donors still needed

The American Red Cross is on the ground in 19 states, offering food, comfort and a safe place to stay to people affected by the massive winter storm which has buried the country in ice and snow from the Rocky Mountains to Maine.

As of midnight last night, 73 shelters were open in nine states with additional shelters on standby as the storm system moves to the Northeast. To find an open Red Cross shelter, people can visit www.redcross.org and click on ‘Find a Shelter,’ or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). People can also contact their emergency management office for help locating a shelter.

In Chicago alone, more than 360 people spent the night in Red Cross shelters. Many were motorists stranded by the storm. In Tulsa, Red Cross disaster workers housed almost 70 people overnight who could not make it home due to the storm. Five Red Cross disaster warehouses are on alert, ready to ship supplies to where they are needed to help people in the path of this huge winter storm.

To help people affected by this winter storm and thousands of disasters in this country and around the world, visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter, or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Blood Donors Still Needed

The number of blood donations gone uncollected due to winter storms rose to nearly 23,000 overnight, with more blood drive cancellations expected as the storm moves toward New England. The Red Cross urges people who are eligible to schedule an appointment to give blood now.

People can schedule their donation by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting www.redcrossblood.org. All blood types are needed, but there is a special need for donors with O-Negative, A-Negative and B-Negative blood. To give blood, someone must be 17 years of age or older (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.  Individuals should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when coming to donate.

Winter Storm Safety Tips

If someone has to leave home and go to a shelter, they should remember to bring prescription and emergency medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, toiletries, important documents and other comfort items. They should remember items needed for infants and children, such as diapers, formula, and toys, along with any special things for family members who are elderly or disabled.

If possible, people should stay inside and avoid unnecessary travel. The Red Cross offers these steps people can take to stay safe and warm:

  • Do not use stoves or ovens to heat the home.
  • Place space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface.  Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. 
  • Turn off space heaters or extinguish the fireplace before going to bed or leaving home. 
  • Keep all flammable materials such as newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.

If someone must go outside, they should wear layered lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Covering the mouth will protect the lungs. Other safety tips include:

  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain footing in ice and snow.
    • If shoveling snow, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Avoid overexertion.
    • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if someone must be out on the roads …
      • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
      • Keep the car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
      • The traveler should let someone know where they are going, the route being taken and expected arrival time. If their vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along the predetermined route.

 For more information on how to stay safe and warm during this latest onslaught of winter, visit www.redcross.org.     

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.

You can help people affected by disasters like winter storms, 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.

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.