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Red Cross: 22,000 People Sought Safety Overnight in Florida Evacuation Shelters as Hurricane Matthew Arrived

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Now is the time for neighbors and communities to come together and support one another.

The American Red Cross and community partners have launched a massive sheltering operation in response to Hurricane Matthew with more than 22,000 people seeking refuge in 133 shelters across the state of Florida. Thousands more have sought shelter in dozens of evacuation shelters in Georgia and South Carolina.

“Here in Florida, volunteers from every corner of the U.S. have come to help, standing up with our regional teams through this massive response,” said Linda Jorge Carbone, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Central Florida. “The Red Cross is proud to be one of many organizations providing help -- working together with government agencies, other non-profit groups and community partners, to provide for the urgent needs of disaster victims during and after the storm. Now is the time for neighbors and communities to come together and support one another.”

RED CROSS RESPONSE - In addition to providing a safe place to ride out the dangerous storm, the Red Cross is preparing to deliver relief supplies and help people recover from Matthew as soon as it is safe to do so. More than 1,800 American Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground or traveling to the southeast to response efforts. The Red Cross has deployed numerous emergency response vehicles and 35 trailers filled with items like water, ready-to-eat meals, shelter and kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more. The Red Cross is also working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to make sure people get the help they need.

POWER OUTAGES - For those who have stayed in their homes, power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they last a long time. For prolonged power outages, Florida residents should steps to minimize food loss and to keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible: 

* Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. 

* If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. 

* Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times. 

Consider the following precautions to keep your family safe until power is restored: 

* Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics. 

* Turn off or disconnect any appliances or electronics. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.

* Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.

* Avoid unnecessary travel, especially by car. Stop lights will be out and roads congested.

* Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside any partially enclosed area. The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity or heat are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, and fire. If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location. Call for help and remain there until emergency personnel arrive. 

EMERGENCY APP - The FREE Red Cross Emergency App provides real time safety information on your mobile device, including emergency weather alerts and shelter locations. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, text GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or go to redcross.org/apps

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.