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Red Cross Provides Relief after Midwest Tornado Outbreak


The American Red Cross stands shoulder to shoulder with the thousands of people affected by this week’s devastating tornadoes, providing for their immediate needs.

In West Liberty, Kentucky, one of the hardest hit communities by the March 2 tornado outbreak, resident Martha Hall remembers the roar as the twister approached.

“(We) covered ourselves just in time,” Hall said. The roof of her home is now gone and debris is everywhere. “It went boom. You could feel the house move.” Officials have informed Hall that her home will have to be leveled. In this small mountain town of just 3,000 people the tornado has affected everyone in some way. Some have lost loved ones; others have lost their home or business, or both.

Besides Kentucky, communities throughout the South and Midwest were affected by these severe storms and the Red Cross is working around the clock to assist people with situations just like that of Martha Hall.

Red Cross Support Last night, the Red Cross opened 25 shelters, providing a safe haven for more than 250 people in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, where blizzard conditions forced people to seek refuge. Red Cross emergency vehicles are distributing meals and relief supplies in affected communities, and assessment teams are helping to determine the full scope of the damage the tornadoes left behind.

The governors of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia have declared a state of emergency for the state or affected counties.

“The families that we’ve talked to today have expressed gratitude that they are alive, but they also recognize that a lot of their loved ones are not,” said Red Cross disaster worker Anita Foster in West Liberty, Kentucky. “The Red Cross is doing what we can. We have deployed our disaster mental health workers - folks who can help with the crisis counseling. We have loaded trucks and supplies and pushed them into the neighborhoods just as quickly as possible.”

Martha Hall, 65, survived the tornado, but lost her home. Like many, Hall has lived in West Liberty, Kentucky, since birth. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross The March 2 tornado left destruction behind after passing through West Liberty, a mountain town in eastern Kentucky. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

People have had their lives turned upside down and Red Cross mental health support is an important part of the relief effort. Red Cross mental health workers will help people cope with the loss they have had to endure. Many remain in shock, wondering what will happen next.

“I’ve seen this on TV and could never imagine it for real,” said Hall. For the people of West Liberty, Kentucky, including Martha Hall, finding a new normal will take many days. Adding to the already overwhelming circumstances many face, snow is predicted for much of the affected areas today.Thanks to the American Red Cross, she and the many like her will not be alone in the difficult days ahead.

If someone would like to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes and floods, they can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Follow safety steps. As people begin to deal with the aftermath of the tornadoes, the Red Cross reminds them they should return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so. They should also:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings and immediately report any fallen power lines or broken gas lines to the utility companies.
  • If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window, get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department.
  • Use flashlights, not candles when examining buildings.

Locate a shelter. People can find Red Cross shelters by contacting local emergency officials, visiting www.redcross.org, or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). iPhone users can download a free Red Cross shelter view app from the app store.

Those affected can let loved ones know they are safe by registering on the secure Red Cross Safe and Well website, where they can also update their Facebook and Twitter status. If they don’t have computer access, they can also register by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Loved ones outside the disaster area can use Safe and Well to find information about loved ones in the affected areas by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Smart phone users can visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for friends and family” link.