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Red Cross Assesses Damage in Areas Affected by Storms

The American Red Cross responded to a massive storm which brought strong winds, rain, tornadoes and snow to a large portion of the country yesterday, leaving thousands without power, damaging homes and businesses, and disrupting travel.

Much of the Chicago area was affected by strong winds and rain. Portions of Wisconsin remain under high wind warnings after 60 mph gusts downed trees and power lines and left more than 50,000 people without power. Tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and North Carolina. In Ohio, strong winds led to scattered power outages and damaged homes in the Toledo area.

A blizzard warning was issued today for Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota where high winds and as many as ten inches of snow are expected.

Red Cross chapters throughout the affected area are prepared to open shelters if necessary, and have teams on the ground assessing the extent of the damage from yesterday’s wind and rain.

Residents of the wind-ravaged neighborhoods should return to their homes only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Other steps to take to remain safe after a tornado include:

  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them immediately.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly. Call the gas company or fire department.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage. Do not use candles.
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If a blizzard is headed for your community, avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog. Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing layers of warm, loose-fitting clothes. Other steps to take if faced with blizzard conditions include:

  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Check on your animals and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles. If possible, bring them indoors.

For more information on what you can do to stay safe if your neighborhood is affected by this weather system, visit the Preparedness section of our web site.