Red Cross Helps Arkansas Tornado Survivors with Shelter, Food and Relief Supplies

As severe weather threat continues, people should prepare and use free app alerts 

Tornado damage, Mayflower Arkansas 27April2014. Early reports and images show that Mayflower Arkansas suffered heavy damage.

The American Red Cross is helping people in Arkansas and several other states affected by Sunday’s devastating tornadoes.

More than 200 people spent Sunday night in shelters in Arkansas that were opened or supported by Red Cross workers. The Red Cross is also providing health and mental health services and Red Cross emergency vehicles will be distributing food throughout the affected areas.

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with all those impacted by these horrific tornadoes,” said Richard Reed, senior vice president, Disaster Cycle Services for the Red Cross. “Red Cross disaster teams are helping now and will continue to help for weeks to come.”

RED CROSS SENDS BLOOD The Red Cross provided several units of type O negative blood to two hospitals in Arkansas before the storm and supplied 40 units of plasma this morning to help treat those who were injured. The hospitals say they have a sufficient blood supply to handle the situation at this point. The Red Cross stands ready to assist with any additional blood needs. Anyone interested in donating blood should call 1-800-RED CROSS or your local blood bank to schedule an appointment in the weeks ahead.

The Red Cross also has shelters open in Oklahoma and is responding in northern Louisiana where flooding occurred after yesterday’s storms. Shelter and services also are being provided in North Carolina, which was hit Friday night by tornadoes.

SEVERE WEATHER NOT OVER The chance of severe storms is moving eastward today and could impact people in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. Red Cross chapters in those areas are preparing to respond by readying shelters, supplies and volunteers.

support-american-red-cross-in-arkansas-disaster-relief-for-arkansasDOWNLOAD TORNADO APP People should download the Red Cross tornado app onto their mobile devices. They can use the app’s “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know they are okay and find the location of Red Cross shelters. The app also includes a high-pitched siren and warning alert that signals when a tornado warning has been issued, as well as also an all-clear alert that lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled. The Red Cross sent out 2.1 million severe weather notifications over the weekend through its tornado app for tornado and thunderstorm watches and warnings.

If someone needs to find a shelter, they can contact their local Red Cross chapter or access the Red Cross shelter map which is updated every 30 minutes with shelter locations by address, city, state and/or zip code.

HOW TO HELP Those who would like to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

2012 Disaster Response Statistics


Red Cross Prepares for Spring Disasters

Early season tornadoes in 2012 after active spring in 2011

Spring can be one of the busiest seasons for the American Red Cross, with severe weather causing tornadoes and floods that affecting communities across the country.

Last spring, in a span of only three months, the Red Cross launched 46 large-scale disaster relief operations in 31 states. And weather experts are predicting 2012 to be another busy year for storms.

Tornado Season Arrives Tornado season has traditionally begun in April and extended throughout the month of June. But in 2012, the Red Cross has already responded to tornadoes in January, February and March. March brought particularly brutal storms with approximately 80 tornadoes affecting communities from the Midwest to the Gulf on a single day, March 2.

In the immediate aftermath of these storms, the Red Cross has opened shelters, distributed food and provided comfort and care for those affected. As of March 14, the Red Cross has opened 33 shelters, providing more than 1,000 overnight stays, and has served more than 92,500 meals and snacks to those affected by severe storms. It seems tornado season is arriving early.

Homeowner Cindy Cain of Henryville, Indiana talks with Red Cross volunteer Gerry Holmes after the tornado leveled her home as well as most of the town.

In a recent Reuters article, climatologist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said the fact is that tornado season will begin as early as February.

Not only do scientists expect tornado season to start earlier, but the number of days when conditions are ripe for tornadoes to form will likely increase, according to atmospheric scientist Robert Trapp of Purdue University. Trapp and his colleagues also predicted that the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast, regions that do not typically experience tornadoes, will have an increase in days with tornado-making weather conditions.

Already this year, the Red Cross has responded to tornadoes in southeastern Michigan, an area that is not normally associated with tornadoes. With more days likely to produce tornado conditions and more areas likely to be affected, the Red Cross is helping communities across the country prepare for and respond to these disasters.

Spring Flood Outlook Last spring, the Red Cross also responded to major flooding and widespread wildfires. Thankfully, for the first time in four years, there is no high risk of major flooding this spring according to NOAA’s annual Spring Outlook.

“We’re not forecasting a repeat of recent historic and prolonged flooding in the central and northern U.S., and that is a relief,” said Laura Furgione, deputy director, NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The severity of any flooding this year will be driven by rainfall more so than the melting of the current snowpack.” Still, spring rainfall can lead to flooding at any time and the Red Cross urges everyone to be prepared.

Forecasters say drought conditions will likely persist across much of the southern U.S. and expand in the Southwest through spring which could result in an active wildfire season.

When emergencies strike, knowing where to go and what to do can help save lives. For preparedness tips for spring weather including tornadoes, flooding and wildfires, visit

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

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, 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 or join our blog at


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