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

Southern Flood Waters Going Down, Leaving Behind a Muddy Mess

Clean-up efforts are underway across Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas after this week’s flooding and tornadoes, and the American Red Cross is there, helping those whose lives have been disrupted.

More than 1,100 Red Cross workers from all over the United States are providing food, shelter, clean-up items, toiletries, blankets, shovels, rakes, gloves, trash bags and other necessities.

Hundreds of people are still in Red Cross shelters, seeking food and a safe place to stay. If someone needs information about Red Cross shelters, they can visit and click on the “Find a Shelter” link.

Damage is widespread with people needing everything from immediate emergency assistance to help with the clean-up, according to Joe Becker, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. “This is a tough response and people have been through a lot,” Becker said. “This operation is going to go on for weeks. It’s our job to make sure people’s needs are met.”

Thousands are still without power. Roadways and bridges are destroyed. People returning to their homes are finding they’ve lost everything. Tennessee is the hardest hit. In Nashville alone, officials estimate this week’s flooding caused over $1 billion in damages. Tennessee Governor Phil Gredesen has declared 52 of the state’s 95 counties as disaster areas.

Two Southern Baptist kitchens are in Tennessee, in Nashville and Jackson, with a combined capacity of serving 10,000 meals a day. The Red Cross has already served more than 100,000 meals and snacks across the five states. More than 45 mobile response vehicles are in the affected areas with more on the way, delivering food and clean-up items throughout the damaged neighborhoods.

Residents of Nashville were also treated to fresh pizza, courtesy of Pizza Hut and NPC International, the largest Pizza Hut franchisee in the world. “We knew we had to do something. With a massive mobile pizza oven available, we’re able to turn out a large number of pizzas for families in the Nashville area who needed help,” said Kirby Mynier, Vice President of Operations, East Territory. Pizza Hut reached out to the Red Cross and produced thousands of pizzas this week, which were then distributed by the Red Cross.

If you would like to help, there are three ways that people can make a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund: Visit to donate online, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

The Red Cross urges all who have been affected by floods to use caution. As the waters return to their banks, the Red Cross offers the following safety tips on what people should do after a flood:

Be safe: Avoid downed power lines and smell for gas when entering your home or office. Wear protective clothing like rubber gloves and boots when cleaning your home.

"When in doubt, throw it out": Dispose of food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud, including canned goods, capped bottles and sealed containers. Water may not be safe to drink, clean with, or bathe in after an emergency such as a flood. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your water supply is tested and found safe.

Get rid of mold: Mold can cause asthma attacks or irritate your eyes, nose and skin. Remove all items that have been wet for more than 48 hours. To clean hard surfaces, use commercial cleaning products or a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water.

Additional information on flood safety is available on the flood preparedness section of our web site.

Help people affected by disasters like the recent floods and tornadoes in the South, 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