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Red Cross Helps As Winter Storm Heads To New England

Flooding a danger from Delaware to Massachusetts.

The relentless winter storm that has already hit a large portion of the country is now heading to New England where it could cause flooding and erosion along the coast. The American Red Cross is working with officials and has workers and supplies ready if needed as help continues in areas already affected by the storm.

Parts of the mid-Atlantic were hammered by the storm yesterday, leaving about 157,000 without power in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. The Red Cross opened shelters and warming centers in Virginia and West Virginia to help people stay warm and safe.

Officials are keeping an eye out today for coastal erosion and flooding from Delaware to Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, evacuations occurred along the coast Wednesday in some towns and the Red Cross opened shelters and is working with emergency management officials to assess what other help may be needed.

FLASH FLOODS Officials are urging residents along the coast to take precautions in the event of flooding due to storm surge, high waves and higher tides than usual. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. People should be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see where flooding is occurring. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water

TRAVEL ADVISORIES Areas of heavy snow and strong winds will move into New York and New England and last through Friday. People should avoid driving during the storm until road conditions improve. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle. Your kit should include a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, cleaner for your windshield, reflective triangles and bright cloth, an ice scraper and snow brush and non-perishable food. Other steps include:

  • Plan to arrive at your destination before the storm hits. Watch weather predictions for your entire route so you know what to expect along the way.
  • Keep your car's gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route. If you do get stuck in the snow:
  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
  • SAFETY AT HOME The heavy snow could bring trees and power lines down, causing power outages. If the power goes out, use flashlights to provide light. Do not use candles for lighting. Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water. Other tips include:

  • Prevent frozen pipes - when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.
  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended. If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
  • Use a sturdy fire screen around fireplaces when in use. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs.
  • Use generators correctly –never operate a generator inside your home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Check smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button and replacing batteries as necessary.
  • Don’t overload your electrical outlets.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The storm has forced the cancellation of more than 60 blood drives in 12 states and the District of Columbia for a total of more than 2,200 uncollected blood and platelet donations. The Red Cross encourages those who live in areas unaffected by the storm to schedule a time to give blood or platelets. To schedule an appointment to give blood, people can call 1-800-REDCROSS or visit

    To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds with parental consent.

    More information on what steps you can take to stay safe during storms and other emergencies is available on this website.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.