Thousands of people are still cleaning up after the tornadoes and floods which recently tore across the United States from Oklahoma to Alabama. The American Red Cross is on the ground in six states, providing food, shelter and relief items throughout the affected areas.
“We are working with some terrific organizations and focusing our efforts on sheltering, feeding and giving out relief supplies,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “Large disasters create a huge demand for services, more than any one group can meet. Working with these partners helps us to ensure people are receiving the help they need.”
Hundreds of people are still in shelters in Tennessee and Oklahoma. So far, Red Cross disaster assessment workers estimate approximately 2,900 homes in Tennessee alone were destroyed or suffered major damage. The Red Cross has served more than 260,000 meals and snacks and handed out more than 29,000 clean-up and comfort kits.
Some of the organizations helping in the Nashville area include the Salvation Army and Southern Baptists, both helping with the feeding operations; Hands-On Nashville, providing local volunteers; Legal Service Corporation, offering free legal help; Acts II and Samaritan’s Purse, both providing crews to help people clean up their homes.
Other groups lending a hand include the NAACP, National Baptist Convention and Boat People SOS, providing the Red Cross with guidance about vulnerable communities in need of disaster relief; Harpeth Heights Baptist Church and Grace Church of the Nazarene, offering clothing, food, and cleaning supplies; Tides of Hope mobile laundry program, providing free laundry services to Tennessee residents and the relief workers who are helping them; AmeriCorps/NCCC, helping to manage shelters; and St. Paul AME Church, which is helping the Red Cross distribute clean-up and comfort items.
In the case of St. Paul’s AME Church, the Red Cross delivers clean-up kits containing such things as brooms and gloves, and comfort items such as razors and toothbrushes. The church in turn is fielding calls from people in Nashville needing help, and letting them know they can get what they need at the church. “Thanks to the Red Cross, when people say ‘I need,’ we can say ‘we have,’” said Rev. Harold Moses Love, Jr. “This help from the Red Cross allows us to reach out to the various areas of Nashville. Thank you to those who have donated to the Red Cross. Their help allows us to do this work without worrying about when we will get the materials.”
If you would like to help, there are three ways that people can make a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund: Visit redcross.org to donate online, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.
The Red Cross urges everyone who has been affected by these storms to be cautious as they return to their neighborhoods. People should follow these steps to help ensure they remain safe:
- Avoid downed power lines and smell for gas when entering your home or office. Wear protective clothing like rubber gloves and boots when cleaning your home.
- Dispose of food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud, including canned goods, capped bottles and sealed containers. Water may not be safe to drink, clean with, or bathe in after an emergency such as a flood. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your water supply is tested and found safe.
- Stay out of damaged buildings.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.
Additional information is available on www.redcross.org.
Help people affected by disasters like the recent floods and tornadoes, 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.