As the nation celebrates Labor Day, people along the Gulf Coast are still recovering from Isaac and the American Red Cross is there with them, providing food, shelter, clean-up supplies and comfort.
The Red Cross expects the Isaac relief response will continue for several weeks. Days after the storm moved on, hundreds are still in shelters and evacuations are still occurring as waters continue to rise. Hundreds of thousands are still without power, and entire communities are cleaning up after devastating flooding.
“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.”
Sunday night about 660 people stayed in 18 Red Cross or community shelters in Louisiana and Mississippi and thousands of Red Cross disaster workers are lending a hand. Almost 200 emergency response vehicles are traveling through affected neighborhoods, distributing hot meals and relief supplies. More than 193,000 meals and snacks have already been served.
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 SAFELY 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. 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.
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.