Red Cross Helping After Disasters from Coast-to-Coast
Need spans from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean
Tampa, Florida – September 1, 2016 — The American Red Cross is continuing to support disasters from coast-to-coast. For nearly three weeks, thousands of Red Cross volunteers have been helping thousands of people affected by the devastating and historic flooding in Louisiana, and today, we are preparing to respond to the multiple storms threatening Hawaii and Florida.
In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Hermine is bringing rain, high winds, and flooding. Some areas of the state are already feeling the impact of the storm which is expected to run up the east coast after crossing Florida. The Red Cross is helping in Florida by opening shelters; disaster workers and relief supplies on alert to respond if needed. The governor of Florida has declared an emergency and some communities have been ordered to evacuate. The Red Cross is encouraging residents to make their storm preparations now and be prepared to evacuate if necessary. Hermine could affect weather as far north as New England over the holiday weekend. The Red Cross is gearing up in Georgia and South Carolina to respond if necessary.
Two Pacific hurricanes – Madeline and Lester – are expected to hit Hawaii over the next several days, bringing as much as 15 inches of rain and 75 mph winds to the Aloha State. The Red Cross has disaster workers and supplies on alert to respond, and 14 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters are currently open. Red Cross workers are also responding to wildfires out west, flooding in Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and tornadoes in Indiana, along with numerous smaller emergencies that occur every day, such as home fires.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local media outlets for critical information about the storm.
- Obey all evacuation orders.
- Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind.
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and get some extra cash.
- Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have shutters, close and board up all the windows with plywood.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible.
- If you have propane, turn off the tank.
- Unplug small appliances.
As powerful Hermine heads across Florida and up the East Coast, strong winds and rip currents could cause problems for swimmers along the beaches.
- If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
- If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.
- When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.
- Beachgoers should be aware of how dangerous rip currents are, and swim only at lifeguard-protected beaches in the designated swimming area.
- Rip currents can form in any large open water area such as low spots and breaks in sandbars, or near structures such as jetties and piers.
RED CROSS VOLUNTEERS BUSY
The last several weeks have kept Red Cross disaster volunteers busy. Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Operations and Logistics Brad Kieserman says, “To date, the Red Cross has deployed more than 6,300 volunteers in less than two months, two-and-half-times the number called upon by this point in 2015. Plus, last year saw 24,000 volunteers deployed, with 2015 requiring more than triple the number of volunteers to respond to disasters than in any of the past three years.”
GET READY FOR STORMS NOW
Those currently in the midst of the storm should stay off the roads. If you must leave home, drive slowly with your lights on and do not risk driving through standing or rushing water. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local media outlets for critical information about the storm and obey all evacuation orders. If you are home and experience a power outage, follow the steps in this power outage checklist.
Those in the path of the storm should prepare now. The Red Cross has three steps people can follow - build a kit, make a plan and be informed. An emergency kit should include a gallon of water per person, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications and copies of important documents. Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Learn about how your community responds to hurricanes and plan routes to local shelters. Remember family members with special medical needs and plan how you will care for your pets.
The Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist is available to learn more about what to do if a hurricane might affect your community. For more information on hurricane safety, visit the preparedness section of our web site.
Another resource for download is the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of hurricanes, flooding and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The app includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
The Red Cross needs your support to help people affected by disasters big and small. People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small. You can help by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
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.