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Red Cross Provides Guidance for Residents in Wake of Deadly Tornadoes

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Sarasota, Fla., Monday, January 18, 2016 — In the early morning hours yesterday severe weather in Central Florida sparked two tornadoes that ripped through Manatee and Sarasota counties. At dawn trained American Red Cross of Southwest Florida volunteers were on the scene and began circulating through the neighborhoods to assess the damage. Over the coming days, the Red Cross will be working closely with local emergency management and partners to provide additional support. The Red Cross is providing the following information to assist residents:

 Residents in Need of Assistance A multi-agency resource center will open today, Monday, January 18, to assist residents whose properties were damaged by the storms in Sarasota County. At the resource center, people can learn about services and programs to help with their recovery. County officials and representatives from the American Red Cross, Florida Power & Light and the county sheriff’s office will be available.

Attendees should bring proof of residency to Edson Keith Mansion at Phillippi Estate Park, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For more information, call 941-561-5000 or visit https://www.scgov.net. Residents may also contact the Red Cross of Southwest Florida at 941-379-9300.

 Download Emergency App People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App onto their mobile devices. The app includes a warning siren and alert when a severe weather warning has been issued and an all-clear alert when the warning expires or is cancelled. Users can find Red Cross shelters and utilize the app’s “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know they are okay. For more information, visit www.redcross.org/apps.

Tornado Safety Here in Florida, we are at the peak of tornado season and severe weather can occur at any time. People should know how their community will warn them about the storm. Other steps include the following:

  • Pick a place where family members can gather - a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs – dark, greenish clouds, a cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or roaring noise.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or severe winds. If there is access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon the mobile home immediately and go to that facility. Do not wait until the tornado is in view.
  • If someone is caught outdoors, they should seek shelter in a sturdy building. If they can’t do that, they should get into a vehicle, buckle their seat belt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs, they should pull over and park, stay in the vehicle with their head down below the windows, covering their head.
  • Returning Home Tips

  • Follow the advice of local authorities and find out if it is safe to go back to your community.
  • Bring photo ID and proof of address and your first aid kit.
  • In case utilities are out - bring flashlights, batteries, bottled water and nonperishable foods.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines, foundation cracks and other exterior damage. It may be too dangerous to enter the home.
  • How To Cope The ongoing tornado threat is stressful for people in the storm’s path and even more frightening for residents who have faced tornadoes in the past. The Red Cross offers these steps people can take to support each other during this difficult time:

  • Take time to take care of yourself and your family. Reach out to others to offer and receive support.
  • Events like this can cause feelings of uncertainty and anxiety since no one knows for sure what will happen next. Remember that it's okay to feel nervous.
  • Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest.
  • Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration, anxiety or difficulty sleeping.
  • Parents should let children talk about their fears and then reassure them about their safety.
  • People should also be careful not to overexpose themselves to media reports about the storm.
  • To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.
  •  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.