As temperatures continue to hover around 100 degrees, millions of people are still without electricity after the weekend’s storms. Nearly 1,000 Red Cross disaster workers are spread out over 12 states, helping people forced from their homes by the power outages in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions, wildfires in the west, and flooding from tropical storm Debby in Florida.
More than 1,530 people spent Sunday night in American Red Cross shelters in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersey and in and around Washington, D.C. due to power outages in their communities. The Red Cross is also supporting hundreds of government-run cooling centers in areas without power..“Some communities may not see the power come back on for several days and the Red Cross will continue to have shelters open and support cooling centers until the electricity is restored,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “We urge everyone to follow the direction of their local officials, to check on the elderly and people who live alone in their neighborhood, and follow safety directions if using a generator in their homes.”
If someone needs to find a Red Cross shelter they can go to www.redcross.org or access the free Red Cross phone app. People can also watch local media reports to find out where shelters are located.
FIREWORKS WARNING The hot weather and dry conditions all across the country make the situation ripe for forest and brush fires. Officials urge people to avoid using fireworks at or near their homes, to enjoy the 4th of July holiday tradition at professional shows in their communities.
BLOOD DONATIONS NEEDED The storms and power outages have caused the cancellation of dozens of Red Cross blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of more than 1,000 potential blood and platelet donations. The blood supply was already at emergency levels, with June blood donations down 50,000 fewer than expected.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. To schedule an appointment, or for more information, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
POWER OUTAGE While their electricity is out, many people are resorting to generator power. They should connect the equipment they want powered directly to the generator outlets, and never connect a generator to the home’s electrical system.
Refrigerators can only keep food cold for about four hours with the door closed. A full freezer can hold its temperature for about two days if the door remains closed. Many areas have now been without power for several days. People should use caution before consuming food they’ve had on hand while the power is out.
People should turn appliances and electrical equipment off and unplug them, leaving one light on to know when the power is restored.
Those affected should travel only if necessary. Traffic lights are out and roads will be congested.
WILDFIRES Thousands of people are still unable to go home as wildfires continue to scorch several western states. More than 100 people spent Sunday night in ten Red Cross shelters in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Hundreds of disaster workers are in Colorado, where the largest fires continue to burn. Thousands of relief supplies like rakes, shovels, gloves and coolers have been handed out to people returning to their homes; and the Red Cross has served more than 40,000 meals and snacks in Colorado.
FLORIDA FLOODING Almost 70 people in Florida are staying in Red Cross shelters as communities clean up after the massive flooding from Debby. Hundreds of disaster workers and a fleet of emergency response vehicles are providing shelter, meals and distributing relief supplies. The Red Cross has served more than 31,000 meals and snacks in Florida and distributed more than 22,000 relief items like tarps, gloves, trash bags and cleaning supplies to people cleaning up their homes.
HOW TO HELP If someone would like to help people affected by these disasters, they can make a donation today to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
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 redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.