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Red Cross Shelters Thousands as Floods Swamp Northeast

Nearly 5,000 people took shelter with the American Red Cross Thursday night—the vast majority in New York and Pennsylvania—as remnants of Tropical Storm Lee flooded roads, damaged and destroyed homes, caused power outages and prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Lee Response The Red Cross had 17 shelters open in New York on Thursday night, and 41 open in Pennsylvania. These shelters are expected to stay open for at least several days as residents wait for waters to recede along the Susquehanna River.

In addition to opening shelters in the affected areas, the Red Cross is giving residents food, water and other critical relief supplies, and stands ready to distribute cleanup materials once residents are able to return home.

Dozens of Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles are being mobilized for Pennsylvania and New York, as well as thousands of additional cots and blankets. In addition, 60,000 ready-to-eat meals are being shipped to Pennsylvania.

Relief for Irene, Wildfires Continues Meanwhile, the Red Cross remains hard at work in North Carolina, New Jersey and throughout New England, where Hurricane Irene destroyed thousands of homes at the end of August. The Red Cross is still providing food and shelter for hundreds of people affected by that storm and communities experiencing additional flooding.

Disaster relief also continues in Texas, where wildfires have burned at least 1,300 homes so far. More than 240 people spent the night in six Red Cross shelters in Texas on Thursday evening. The Red Cross is also providing food and water to people forced from their homes, as well as for emergency responders who are fighting the fires.

In less than a two-week period, the Red Cross has initiated multiple relief operations because of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and the Texas wildfires. To date, the Red Cross has:

  • Provided more than 60,000 overnight shelter stays
  • Served 1.9 million meals and snacks
  • Distributed more than 200,000 relief items, including cleanup supplies
  • Sent more than 6,000 Red Cross workers to affected areas

Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; you can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.