The American Red Cross is on the ground in Utah and Texas where wildfires and floods are playing havoc with people’s lives. Meanwhile powerful storms in the Atlantic Ocean continue to cause dangerous rip currents along the beaches.
In Utah, the Herriman wildfire has destroyed hundreds of acres. Mandatory evacuations are in effect for as many as 250 homes, with an additional 150 homes under a voluntary evacuation order. More than 80 people took refuge overnight in a Red Cross shelter. The American Red Cross in Utah is providing shelter, meals and emotional support for those affected by the fire.
In Texas, heavy rainfall caused flooding Sunday in the southern portion of the state, prompting the evacuation of residents of Nueces County. Accumulations of five to six inches of rain have been recorded in some areas. The heavy rain is expected to continue today. More than 55 people stayed in Red Cross shelters overnight. The Red Cross’ Coastal Bend-Texas Chapter has teams in the area providing assistance as needed.
If you have been affected by the fires in Utah or flooding in Texas, you can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, an easy way to notify loved ones of your well-being. You can sign up on the web site or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Friends and family can then search for your message by using your phone number or complete address.
The Red Cross has a list of steps you should take to remain safe should your home be threatened by a wildfire or serious flooding. For information on what to do in case of a wildfire or flood, visit www.redcross.org.
Along the Atlantic coast, Hurricane Igor and Tropical Storm Julia continue to cause powerful rip currents along the shore. The Red Cross advises anyone taking a late-summer trip to the beach to swim on lifeguard-protected beaches if possible, within the designated swimming areas.
For those planning to spend some time on the beach, remember the following:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Never fight against the current.
- Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle—away from the current—toward shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats, such as a lifejacket, cooler or inflatable ball. Yell instructions on how to escape the current. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.