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Red Cross issues tips for potential evacuations and flood preparedness

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle providing relief after Superstorm Sandy.

Many areas along the Mississippi are experiencing flooding due to recent heavy rains.  The American Red Cross is offering the following tips to protect your family and prepare you for a potential evacuation. 

  • Charge laptops, cell phones, tablets and other electronics in order to get information before, during and after disasters.
  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
  • Listen to local radio and television reports about potential evacuation orders, and if local officials ask you to leave, do so immediately.


Remember these simple tips before leaving your home:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes so you can be protected as much as possible.
  • Take your disaster supplies kit.
  • Take your pets with you; do not leave them behind. Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative's or friend's home or find a "pet-friendly" hotel.
  • Lock your home.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities — don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
  • Do not attempt to drive through water filled roadways.  Find another route.


If you have only moments before leaving, grab these things and go!

  • Medical supplies: prescription medications and dentures.
  • Disaster supplies: flashlight, batteries, radio, first aid kit, bottled water
  • Clothing and bedding: a change of clothes and a sleeping bag or bedroll and pillow for each household member
  • If you have young children, bring a comfort item like a favorite stuffed animal. 
  • Car keys and keys to the place you may be going (friend's or relative's home)


Important papers to take with you

  • Driver's license or personal identification 
  • Wills, deeds, and copies of recent tax returns
  • Social Security card 
  • Stocks, bonds, and other negotiable certificates
  • Birth and marriage certificates 
  • Insurance policies


If local officials haven't advised an immediate evacuation

If there's a chance the situation may get worse or flooding may happen, take steps now to protect your home and belongings. Do this only if local officials have not asked you to leave.

Protect your home

  • Bring things indoors. Lawn furniture, trash cans, children's toys, garden equipment, clotheslines, hanging plants, and any other objects that may fly around and damage property should be brought indoors.
  • Look for potential hazards around your home. Turn off electricity and water if authorities advise it.
  • Turn off electricity at the main fuse or breaker, and turn off water at the main valve.
  • Leave natural gas on. Unless local officials advise otherwise, leave natural gas on because you will need it for heating and cooking when you return home. If you turn gas off, a licensed professional is required to turn it back on, and it may take weeks for a professional to respond.
  • Turn off propane gas service. Propane tanks often become dislodged in disasters.