With floodwaters in the Gulf states receding and roads reopening, the American Red Cross is helping residents return to their homes. Volunteers and vehicles are fanning out into communities devastated by Isaac to deliver hot meals and distribute relief supplies in bulk.
“The road to recovery for these communities will not be easy, but they will not be alone,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “As families return home to take stock, the Red Cross will be there – to make sure their emergency needs are met and help them get back on their feet.”
As of Saturday night, about 3,000 disaster workers have served 135,000 meals and snacks, handed out more than 12,500 relief items, and provided nearly 4,000 health services and mental health contacts. More than 200 Red Cross emergency response vehicles, hundreds of volunteers and truckloads of relief supplies are circulating in more affected neighborhoods.
While residents are returning home in increasing numbers, for the fifth consecutive night the Red Cross had many hundreds of people in 24 shelters along the Gulf. Days after the storm hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses remain without power, and some neighborhoods are still under water.
With a large response effort spanning multiple states, the Red Cross is working closely with government agencies and community organizations to coordinate this multi-state relief response. Partners like AmeriCorps, Islamic Relief USA, NAACP and the National Baptist Convention USA are assisting the Red Cross to provide help and comfort. The Red Cross has also received assistance from a number of companies including Spectrum Brands, Walgreens, Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Vision Services, who have provided items such as insect repellent, bottled water and snacks.
The Red Cross response to Isaac could cost as much as tens of millions of dollars with expenses growing by the hour. After a difficult summer of helping people affected by wildfires, power outages and floods, resources are stretched thin. The Red Cross needs the support of the American public. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
RETURNING HOME SAFETY As the recovery begins, new challenges will arise. This weekend, the heat index neared 100 degrees as hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the Gulf region are still without power, without air conditioning. Temperatures are expected to be high this weekend therefore it’s important that people stay hydrated and safe in these hot conditions.
With few options to escape the heat, people should eat small meals and wear loose-fitting, light clothing. If the power is out, people should use flashlights, not candles and check food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out. Generators, grills, camp stoves and similar devices should not be used inside.People should also check on family, friends and neighbors, and make sure their animals are not suffering from the heat.
As residents return home to clean up their properties and clear debris, people should use the buddy system when working in excessive heat and take frequent breaks if working outdoors. In addition, people should beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around the home. Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud.Hard surfaces should be cleaned with soap and hot water and all drywall and insulation exposed to floodwaters removed. Waterlogged items will be heavier and people should be careful when moving them.
STORM DRENCHES MIDWEST Meanwhile, the remnants of Isaac move north, bringing heavy rain and strong winds to communities in the Midwest. Isaac is also likely to trigger tornadoes as it passes over these states. If people need to find a shelter, they can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check local media outlets.
Isaac has already forced the cancellation of blood drives along the Gulf Coast. Depending on the storm’s path, additional blood collections may be cancelled, causing a shortfall of blood in the affected areas. All eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by Isaac are encouraged to call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at redcrossblood.org today to schedule an appointment to give blood.