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Red Cross Responds To Michigan Tornadoes


Tornadoes touched down in southeastern Michigan Thursday, destroying homes and businesses, taking out power lines, and flooding roads in the area. The American Red Cross is providing shelter, food and water and other necessities, as well as mental health services to those affected.

“A lot of people are pretty distraught,” said Jenni Hawes, Red Cross of Washtenaw and Lenawee Counties. “We are encouraging them to come to our shelters and get assistance.”

Red Cross disaster workers are still responding to the tornadoes that ripped through several states in the last several weeks. The first day of spring is just days away, ushering in the time of year known for dangerous tornado activity in the United States.

The Red Cross has safety steps people can follow to protect members of their household if their community is in the path of a tornado. “Pick a safe place in your home or apartment building where household members and pets can gather during a tornado,” said Rick Bissell, PhD, MS, MA, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and chair of the Preparedness Sub-Council. “Use a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.”

TORNADO WATCHES AND WARNINGS A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area. People should be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or someone suspects a tornado is approaching. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar. People should immediately go underground to a basement, storm cellar or interior room of the house.

Other steps people should take include:

  • Watch for tornado warning signs such as dark, greenish clouds, large hail, a roaring noise, a cloud of debris or funnel clouds. Secure outside items such as lawn furniture or trash cans, which could be picked up by the wind and injure someone.
  • If a tornado watch is issued, it means tornadoes are possible and people should be ready to act quickly. If a tornado warning is issued, it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar and people should go underground immediately to a basement or storm cellar or to an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.
  • If a tornado warning is issued and someone is outside, they should hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If they cannot get to a building, they should get in a vehicle, buckle in, and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs, a person can pull over and stay in the car with the seat belt on, their head below the window, and cover their head with a blanket or their hands. If someone does not have a vehicle, they should find ground lower than the surface of the roadway, and cover their head with their hands.
  • If someone is in a high-rise building, they should pick a place in the hallway in the center of the building.

Visit the preparedness section of the Red Cross web site for more tornado safety information.