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:
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:
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 www.redcrossblood.org
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.