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Red Cross Helping People Recover After Tornadoes; Urges Preparedness As More Storms Predicted

Weather experts predict another round of severe weather tomorrow across the middle of the country, and the American Red Cross is urging people to get ready now in case the storms materialize in their communities. Meanwhile, Red Cross workers continue to help people affected by Wednesday’s early morning tornadoes in the same part of the country, providing food, shelter and emotional support.

Weather forecasters say Friday’s storms could affect areas from the southern Great Lakes to the lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys, including the cities of Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Nashville and Birmingham, where residents may see tornadoes, straight-line winds and hail.

The Red Cross has safety steps people can follow to protect members of their household. “Pick a safe place in your home or apartment building where household members and pets can gather during a tornado,” said Rick Bissell, PhD, MS, MA, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and chair of the Preparedness Sub-Council. “Use a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.”

Other steps people should take include:

  • Watch for tornado warning signs such as dark, greenish clouds, large hail, a roaring noise, a cloud of debris or funnel clouds. Secure outside items such as lawn furniture or trash cans, which could be picked up by the wind and injure someone.
  • If a tornado watch is issued, it means tornadoes are possible and people should be ready to act quickly. If a tornado warning is issued, it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar and people should go underground immediately to a basement or storm cellar or to an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.
  • If a tornado warning is issued and someone is outside, they should hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If they cannot get to a building, they should get in a vehicle, buckle in, and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs, a person can pull over and stay in the car with the seat belt on, their head below the window, and cover their head with a blanket or their hands. If someone does not have a vehicle, they should find ground lower than the surface of the roadway, and cover their head with their hands.
  • If someone is in a high-rise building, they should pick a place in the hallway in the center of the building.
  • Red Cross shelters were open overnight in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Missouri, where the Red Cross is serving hundreds of meals a day in the affected areas where people are without power. Numerous injuries have been reported, and many homes and businesses destroyed. The Red Cross is working with local government and community partners to help people, as they begin to clean up their neighborhoods. , In addition to providing health and mental health services, Red Cross damage assessment teams are fanning out in the affected communities today.

    Harrisburg, Illinois was particularly hard hit and Red Cross Blood Services delivered blood products to a medical center in the area to support patient needs. The blood inventory in the affected areas is sufficient at this time. If someone would like to give blood, they must be 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and be in general good health. Eligible blood donors can schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or visiting www.redcrossblood.org.

    To find an open Red Cross shelter, people can visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). iPhone users can download a free Red Cross shelter view app from the app store.

    People can help those affected by disasters like the Midwest tornadoes and storms, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Consider making a donation today by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Contributions enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.