The American Red Cross is on alert as Tropical Storm Alex moves through the Gulf of Mexico, working on updated sheltering and feeding plans with local and state emergency officials.
Weather experts forecast that Alex could intensify and become a hurricane within the next couple of days. While the path of the storm is not yet certain, most models show that Alex may come ashore along the coast of Mexico or Texas. Hurricane watches are now in effect for the southern coast of Texas and the northern coast of Mexico. The storm’s path is expected to be far from the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.
“From our chapters in the Gulf area to our headquarters, we are all preparing to respond to this storm,” said Joe Becker, Senior Vice President for Red Cross Disaster Services. “The Red Cross is placing volunteers and response vehicles on stand by to be ready for Tropical Storm Alex. And we urge residents to stay informed and be prepared should the storm affect their areas.”
The Red Cross begins preparing for potential hurricanes well before the first storm even forms. For instance, the Red Cross already has thousands of potential shelter locations in states along the Gulf of Mexico, and chapters are prepared to open shelters within a few hours if needed. Shelter supplies such as cots and blankets are available nationwide at all times to support a half million shelter residents. Disaster relief supplies such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, mops, gloves, and disinfectant are also available, located in 24 warehouses near disaster-prone areas.
Partnering with organizations like the Southern Baptists and Salvation Army, the Red Cross has the capacity to prepare and serve a million meals a day in communities hit by a disaster. This enormous feeding effort can be accomplished with trailer-based kitchens, kitchens run by Red Cross partners, with the help of local vendors and caterers, and with a supply of shelf-stable meals. If people can’t get to a kitchen, a fleet of over 320 mobile response vehicles can serve meals on mobile routes.
In addition, the Red Cross has more than 90,000 trained disaster workers, 93 percent of which are volunteers, available to help if needed. These workers can be deployed into a disaster affected area from all across the United States to support Red Cross relief activities.
As the Red Cross finalizes preparations to respond to Alex, it is important for people who could be affected by the storm to get themselves and their loved ones ready too. For information on how to get ready for a hurricane, visit www.redcross.org.