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Red Cross Responds to Wildfires, Power Outages Across the Country


The American Red Cross responded overnight after wildfires threatened homes and businesses in Arizona. Meanwhile in the Midwest, weekend storms left thousands in the dark as power lines came down and debris scattered throughout neighborhoods.

The storms are expected to continue today with heavy rain and damaging winds predicted for Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Red Cross shelters were open overnight in Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, West Virginia and Tennessee.

A series of wildfires broke out over the weekend in Arizona, both in the vicinity of Flagstaff. Thousands of acres have burned. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for approximately 1,000 residents in three different communities. The Grand Canyon Red Cross Chapter, in partnership with the Salvation Army, is providing a safe place to stay, food and emotional support to those forced from their homes by the fires. The shelter in Flagstaff will remain open until evacuees can safely return to their homes.

“These are very different situations which emphasize how important it is to be prepared for emergencies,” said Joe Becker, Red Cross senior vice president, disaster services. “People should learn what disasters or emergencies may occur in their area and be prepared for those situations to help ensure their safety, and to protect their loved ones.”

In a wildfire situation, you should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Back your car into the garage or in an open space facing your direction of escape. Confine your pets to one room so you can get them if you need to evacuate quickly. Limit your exposure to smoke and dust and close your windows and doors. If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to stay inside, seek shelter elsewhere.

If a storm knocks out the power to your home, there are different things to consider. You will want to keep your food as safe as possible, so keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened fridge will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours if the door is closed (about 24 hours if half full). If it looks like the power will be out for a few days, fill a cooler with ice for your freezer items.

No matter what the emergency, there are three things people can do to be ready – build a kit, have a family disaster plan, and be informed about what situations, natural disasters and otherwise, could occur in their neighborhood. For details on how to be Red Cross Ready, and what to do in different disaster situations, visit our web site.