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Red Cross Responds to Irene in the East, Wildfires in the West

As Labor Day weekend approaches, the American Red Cross is hard at work helping disaster-hit communities across the country.

Irene’s Aftermath Hurricane Irene left its mark on more than a dozen states along the East Coast. Since the storm hit last weekend, the Red Cross has been providing food and shelter for those impacted by the storm, serving more than 680,000 meals and snacks and providing approximately 54,000 overnight shelter stays. On Wednesday night, about 1,300 people stayed in Red Cross shelters.

As residents begin cleaning up homes that were damaged by wind, rain and floods, the Red Cross is distributing supplies to help in that process. To date, the Red Cross has handed out more than 29,000 relief items such as hygiene kits, mops, brooms, tarps, work gloves and coolers. Red Cross workers are also fanning out in affected communities to bring residents food, water and a comforting word.

Joyce Sledge was pleasantly surprised Tuesday afternoon when a Red Cross vehicle stopped at her house in Kill Devil Hills on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to offer hot meals, dessert and bottled water.

Carrie Smith, a Red Cross volunteer from Kentucky, helped Sledge carry meals to her home, where the windows stood open in hopes of airing out the sodden interior. Sledge was waiting for a contractor to rip out all the carpet and haul away furniture from the home she has shared with her husband John for 40 years.

“I don’t have a stove any more, just a microwave and a coffeemaker,” Sledge said ruefully. Then she brightened: “Tonight we can sit down and relax with coffee and cookies.”

Safety after the storm The Red Cross information sheet, Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood, can help keep you safe after the storm. A mobile-friendly version is also available on

Wildfires and Continuing Flood Relief in the West While the relief operation for Hurricane Irene continues in the East, the Red Cross is also helping residents affected by wildfires in Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon. Two shelters have been opened in Oklahoma and Oregon for families who have had to evacuate their homes.

Farther north in Minot, N.D., nearly 100 people are still relying on the Red Cross for shelter after severe floods drove them from their homes in June.

Storms on the Horizon The Red Cross is also monitoring a potential tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico, which could bring heavy rains to the Gulf Coast this weekend, as well as Hurricane Katia, which is churning in the Atlantic.

The Red Cross can help you prepare for these storms and other emergencies. Go to for information on how to prepare for hurricanes and floods.