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Local Workers Deploy to Joplin

SAN DIEGO, May 25, 2011 - Cruz Ponce and Amy Hegy are deploying tomorrow to Joplin, Missouri. As tornado warnings were broadcast Tuesday evening, the number of people staying in the Red Cross shelter at Missouri Southern State University jumped to 348 people triple the number the night before.

In addition to operating a shelter in Joplin-where people have a safe place to stay, food, water and much needed emotional support-the Red Cross is traveling through neighborhoods to distribute cleanup supplies and provide water and hot meals, which are being prepared by Missouri Southern State University. Red Cross volunteers continue to arrive today to help with feeding efforts and damage assessment. Emergency aid stations are also being set up in town.

Currently, more than 1,600 people sought refuge in 65 Red Cross shelters Wednesday night as the storms forced them from their homes. Red Cross shelters are open in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas.

With reports from local officials indicating a large number of people are still missing in Joplin, the Red Cross encourages everyone affected by the disaster to register on the Safe and Well website by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). From a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the "List Yourself as Safe and Well" or "Search for Friends and Family" link. Friends and family outside the disaster area can use the site to search for messages from their loved ones by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Safe and Well also enables disaster survivors to update their Facebook and Twitter status through the website.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross opened a shelter in Canton, Oklahoma, on Tuesday night after tornadoes tore through the state. A Red Cross emergency communications vehicle was deployed to Oklahoma early Wednesday morning to help with connectivity, and Red Cross teams are also beginning preliminary damage assessments in some neighborhoods.

Since March 31, the Red Cross has initiated 29 relief operations in 22 states. In addition to the tornado response in the Midwest, the Red Cross is continuing to help residents in the South, where tornadoes and Mississippi River flooding have devastated many communities. All totaled, nearly 1,200 people across nine states stayed in a Red Cross shelter last night because of these severe weather events.

Those who want to help the people affected by these disasters, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. There are four easy ways that people can help.

Visit www.sdarc.org

Call (858) 309-1278

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation

Mail a check to the American Red Cross, 3950 Calle Fortunada, San Diego, Ca 92123.

About the American Red Cross, San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter

The American Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on the generosity of the American people to provide our programs and services. The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is leading the effort to make San Diego and Imperial Counties "America's most prepared communities." With the public's ongoing support we provide life saving preparedness training; disaster relief services; 24-hour emergency services to deployed military personnel and their families; and nutritional counseling through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. For more information about or to support the chapter please contact (858) 309-1200 or visit www.sdarc.org

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