You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Seeking Refuge in the Storm


After tornados ripped through the South last Saturday, dozens of families headed to Red Cross shelters to seek refuge.

Katrina Fennell says she is thankful for the night she and her 9-year-old daughter Lily spent in a Red Cross shelter in Yazoo City, Miss. The shelter was located about four miles from their home, which was destroyed by the tornado.

Thanks to a phone call warning Fennell to leave, she escaped with her children and grandchildren. She recalls seeing from the rear view mirror of her car the debris flying as she sped away.

“I think that was when the tornado hit,” she said. “It was around ten minutes after the call.”

Since most of Fennell’s immediate family was also affected by the storm, she and her daughter Lily headed to the Red Cross shelter that evening. There was plenty of food, water and a snack for the Fennells when they arrived. Red Cross workers even had books and games for Lily.

She and her mother smiled. Lily’s was the biggest. “This is good for tonight, thank you,” said Fennell, referring to cots the family pulled together to get some rest.

Although tornadoes touched down in several states, Alabama and Mississippi were the hardest hit. Red Cross workers from throughout the region opened shelters in order to provide a safe place to stay, food to eat and basic necessities such as toiletries and clean-up items to those whose homes were either destroyed or damaged by the deadly winds.

Red Cross Disaster Action Teams are performing casework services and assistance and visiting families as they return to their neighborhoods and try to salvage some of their belongings.

Help people affected by disasters like these tornadoes by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for disasters and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting redcross.org.