The American Red Cross remains on the scene helping people whose lives were turned upside down by the powerful tornadoes that swept across portions of the south over the weekend.
Mississippi and Alabama were hardest hit with numerous tornadoes touching down Saturday. Damage is widespread and thousands are without power.
Red Cross workers from several states throughout the region continue to provide a safe place to stay, food to eat, and basic necessities such as toiletries and clean-up items to those whose homes were either destroyed or damaged by the deadly winds.
Meals are available at the shelters as well as from staff on Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) traveling throughout the storm-torn area. Red Cross Disaster Action Teams are performing casework services and assistance and visiting families as they return to their neighborhoods and try to salvage some of their belongings.
The Red Cross was able to launch its quick response in the tornado-stricken area with the help of the corporations who are members of the organization’s Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). Members of the ADGP pledge donations on an ongoing basis, in advance of major disasters. With pre-positioned supplies ready, the Red Cross can immediately take action when disasters, such as tornadoes, strike. ADGP members include the 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.
In the aftermath of the tornadoes, the Red Cross offers steps people should take to stay safe. They should return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so. When they do, they should wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. As they return, they should watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately. Other safety steps include the following:
- Stay out of damaged buildings.
- Use battery-powered flashlights when examining buildings—do NOT use candles.
- If someone smells gas or hears a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly and call the gas company or fire department.
- Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Keep all family pets under your direct control.
- Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.
For more information on how to be prepared for tornadoes, visit www.redcross.org
Help people affected by disasters like these 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.