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Storms Threaten, Wildfires Rage – Red Cross Helps

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Georgia's Red Cross Keeping Eye on Tropical Storm Erika.

The American Red Cross is responding as Tropical Storm Erika heads for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, reaching Florida by Monday with 50 mph winds and several inches of rain.

On the U.S. Virgin Islands, 56 people spent Wednesday night in several Red Cross supported shelters as Erika neared the region. Red Cross workers in Puerto Rico are ready to respond, with relief supplies set to be distributed where needed. On the U.S. Virgin Islands, government employees were asked not to go to work today and all seaports are closed. Airports are open, but many flights are cancelled. Schools and government agencies in Puerto Rico will close later today.

Weather experts expect little change in the storm’s strength as it nears Florida. Parts of the state could see heavy rain, strong winds and high waves along the Atlantic Ocean. Strong winds extend out as much as 105 miles from the center of the storm. The Red Cross across Florida is getting ready to respond as needed, with workers standing by, shelter sites identified and relief supplies ready to distribute.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Ignacio could come close to Hawaii as early as Monday. The storm is already carrying winds as strong as 85 mph and is forecast to get stronger over the next few days. The Red Cross already has supplies on Hawaii because of earlier storms and is watching the situation closely, ready to respond as needed

HURRICANE SAFETY People in the path of the storms should check their disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed. Emergency preparedness kits should include enough supplies for at least three days in case someone has to evacuate. Water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents should go in every kit. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home.

You’ve packed your kit. What else should you do?

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local media outlets for critical information about the storm.
  • 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.
  • If you are ordered to evacuate, obey the order, avoiding flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • For more details on hurricane safety, visit the hurricane preparedness section of this web site.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of Red Cross workers are helping those people impacted by the raging wildfires out west. Details are available here.

    DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People can also download the all-inclusive Red Cross Emergency App which combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe, including information about what to do in case of floods, thunderstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and more. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

    HOW YOU CAN HELP People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.

    Tags: Hurricanes, Severe Weather, Wildfires.

    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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.