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Red Cross Preparing For Busy Hurricane Season

Hurricane experts at Colorado State University say they expect the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season to be twice as busy as normal, and that chances are good a strong storm will come ashore somewhere along the Atlantic or Gulf coast.

The American Red Cross is getting ready and urges residents along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean to get prepared too. The Red Cross has more than 60,000 trained disaster workers ready to help, and hurricane planning exercises are being held along the East Coast to ensure the Red Cross is ready to respond.

“People who live along the east coast or near the Gulf of Mexico should start getting ready for hurricane season now,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “Get a kit, make a plan, be informed. That’s the best plan for preparing for any disaster, including hurricanes.”

Red Cross supplies such as food, cots, blankets and other relief items are pre-positioned in more than 25 Red Cross warehouses – enough to support thousands of people needing shelter. Through partnerships, the Red Cross has the ability to serve a million meals a day if needed. More than 56,000 shelter locations are identified, and a fleet of more than 320 Red Cross emergency vehicles are ready to go into action.

The Colorado State weather experts predict this hurricane season will be almost twice as active as usual, with 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes with sustained winds of more than 111 mph. They also report the chance that a major storm will come ashore along the coastal regions is 20 percent greater than usual.

The report cites two main reasons for the hurricane predictions – the unusually warm water along the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, and the fact that the country is in a period of increased Atlantic hurricane activity.

If you do live near the Atlantic Ocean or along the Gulf Coast, now would be the time to build your disaster kit or check your supplies if you already have a kit. Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Learn about how your community responds to hurricanes and plan routes to local shelters. Think about how to care for family members with special medical needs and how you will care for your pets.

Hurricanes can cause devastation along coastal areas, but their effects can reach far inland. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes destroyed communities from central Virginia through Pennsylvania and New York. Agnes caused $1.7 billion in damages in areas far from any seashore.

The Red Cross wants everyone to know what they should do if a hurricane might affect their community. For more information on how to get ready for a hurricane, visit the preparedness section of our web site.