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Red Cross Responds to Tropical Storm Debby in Florida, New Wildfires in Colorado

The American Red Cross is operating shelters and serving meals to people affected by flooding in Florida and new wildfires burning in Colorado and Utah.

Tropical Storm Debby is expected to dump more than a foot of rain on parts of Florida over the next several days, just as new wildfires have ignited in Colorado and Utah, forcing people out of their homes in both regions.

Some areas in Florida could see as much as 25 inches of rain as the storm lingers off the Florida coastline. Residents of low-lying areas are under mandatory evacuations, many are without power, roads and bridges are closed and tornadoes are possible across the Florida panhandle today. Eight Red Cross shelters were open overnight for those affected.

In Colorado and Utah, new wildfires are burning, threatening neighborhoods and forcing people out of their homes. The Red Cross has shelters open in both states, which are also serving as evacuation centers where people can get information from officials.

“We urge everyone to follow the advice of their local officials and evacuate immediately if told to do so,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “The Red Cross has shelters open to help people who need a place to go, and we have additional workers, supplies and response vehicles on standby.”

HOW TO FIND RED CROSS SHELTERS People who have been forced to evacuate can find out where Red Cross shelters are open by going to www.redcross.org or accessing the free Red Cross phone app. Both are refreshed with updated information every 30 minutes. Residents can also monitor local media—radio, newspaper and television—to find out where local shelters are located.

REGISTER ON SAFE AND WELL The Red Cross Safe and Well website is also available. People affected by the fires and flooding can access the site and let loved ones know where they are. There are several ways to register on Safe and Well, or search for a loved one. From a computer, visit redcross.org; from a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to be connected with one’s local Red Cross chapter.

SAFETY TIPS Residents in the areas of Florida affected by the storm are urged to be prepared to evacuate if necessary and stay away from the floodwaters. If they encounter flooded roads, they should not drive through the water, but turn around and go in another direction. The Red Cross has more steps people should follow to stay safe while flooding and tornadoes are possible throughout the region.

In Colorado, people living in the areas of the wildfires should:

  • Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
  • More information can be found in the Red Cross Wildfire Safety Checklist.

    HOW PEOPLE CAN HELP Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

    The Red Cross is able to respond immediately to help those affected by these and other disasters through the support of the corporate members of the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). Their generous gifts help keep the Red Cross ready to help whenever and wherever disasters occur. ADGP members include the following:

    3M, Altria Group, Aon, Bank of America, Briggs & Stratton Corporation, Caterpillar Inc., Cisco Foundation, Citi Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Darden Restaurants, Inc., Dell Inc., Dr Pepper Snapple Group, FedEx Corporation, GE Foundation, Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, John Deere Foundation, Johnson Controls, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kraft Foods, Lowe's Companies, Inc., Merck Co. Foundation, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, Northrop Grumman, Optum, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation, Ryder Charitable Foundation, Southwest Airlines, State Farm, Target, The TJX Companies, Inc., UnitedHealthcare, UPS, Walmart, The Walt Disney Company, WellPoint Foundation and Wells Fargo.