Red Cross Responding as Isaac Wreaks Havoc Across the Gulf

As Hurricane Isaac is hammering communities along the Gulf Coast, the American Red Cross is responding across multiple states – providing thousands of people with a safe, dry place to stay and something to eat.

More than 5,200 residents found a safe haven Tuesday night at about 80 shelters run or supported by the Red Cross in six states from Florida to Texas as Hurricane Isaac made landfall along the Gulf Coast. With individuals and families forced to leave their home and belongings behind, shelter populations are expected to increase as the slow-moving storm hangs over coastal communities causing widespread power outages and damaging floodwaters.

“This is a very large response that will go on for a long time, and we need the public’s help,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of disaster services at the Red Cross. “After a difficult summer of helping people affected by wildfires, power outages and floods, Red Cross resources are stretched thin.”

To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

About 2,700 trained Red Cross disaster workers from over the United States have deployed across the Gulf to run shelters, serve meals and distribute relief items. The Red Cross has pre-positioned 311,000 ready-to-eat meals, kitchen support trailers and truck loads of relief supplies with clean up and personal hygiene items, cots, blankets, coolers, shovels, tarps and gloves. In addition, the Southern Baptist Convention has mobile kitchens capable of producing thousands of meals a day staged across the Gulf Coast alongside the Red Cross. Just outside the storm area, 187 emergency response vehicles are ready to move into affected communities as soon as weather conditions allow.

People can find a shelter by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), checking their local media outlets, or downloading the Red Cross Hurricane app. The free Hurricane App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

Users can also let loved ones know they are safe by clicking the app “I’m Safe” button to post a message to their social media accounts. Those affected by Isaac can also use the Red Cross Safe and Well website that helps connect families during emergencies. To register, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.

People heading to shelters should bring extra clothing, pillows, blankets, medications, personal hygiene items and important documents. Families should remember special items for children such as diapers, formula and toys, along with necessary items for those who are elderly or disabled. People should make arrangements for their pets - the Red Cross cannot accept pets in its shelters except for service animals for people with disabilities. The Humane Society and ASPCA have been helping people find pet-friendly shelters and boarders who are accepting pets for free.

Threat Remains from Isaac in Many States

It is important for people along the Gulf Coast to follow instructions from officials and obey evacuation orders. If they have evacuated, they should return home only when officials say it is safe to do so. If they are sheltering in place, they should remain in their home until conditions improve.

People should continue listening to weather reports for the latest updates on the storm and stay alert for extended rainfall and flooding even after the hurricane has passed.

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon water above your ankles or a flooded road, turn around and go another way.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flood danger.
  • Keep away from loose or downed power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building that has water around it. Keep children out of the water.
  • With hundreds of thousands of people without power, the Red Cross has safety tips people should follow.

  • If the power is out, use flashlights, not candles. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and if in doubt, throw it out.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you know it’s not contaminated.
  • Watch animals and keep them under your direct control.
  • If you’re using a generator, connect the equipment you want powered directly to outlets on the generator. Do not connect the generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • 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.