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Red Cross Responds to Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes in Northern Illinois

Media contact: 

Joy Squier, Chief Communications Officer of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

312-907-0520 (24/7 Media Line) | | 

American Red Cross Responds to Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes in Chicago & Northern Illinois

Download the Free Red Cross Emergency App to Help Stay Safe 

CHICAGO, IL (March 1, 2017) - Severe thunderstorms have hit the Chicago & Northern Illinois region. Two tornados touched down in LaSalle County and one tornado touched down in Ogle County. Joliet, IL is also experiencing severe flooding. The American Red Cross is working in collaboration with emergency management agencies and community-based organizations to provide emergency relief this week through sheltering, feeding, casework, distribution of relief supplies, and disaster health and mental health services. 

The Red Cross set up a shelter and canteen services at Ottawa High School at 211 E Main St, Ottawa, IL 61350 and is also supporting first responders with sheltering supplies and canteen services. The Red Cross is also working with Joliet officials to ensure needs of residents who experienced severe flooding are addressed.

“We are here to support the community as long as it takes,” said Ken Cozzi, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley. “We have Red Cross representatives on-the-ground in affected areas, managing supplies and shelters, and talking to emergency management agencies to stay updated on the latest needs. We are here to help.” 

The Red Cross urges residents to take steps to stay safe. Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly and call the gas company or fire department. Temperatures are expected to drop and it may snow. 

The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for severe weather by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App.

The Red Cross Emergency App provides people with instant access to emergency alerts and life-saving information. Available for smart phones and tablets, it includes content on what to do before, during and after a variety of severe weather events. Users can customize more than 35 emergency weather alerts based on their location and where loved ones live. 

Other features include:

  • “Make a Plan” helps families figure out what to do and where to go if a disaster strikes;
  • Preloaded emergency preparedness content is available in English And Spanish and can be accessed without mobile connectivity;
  • “Family Safe” allows people to notify loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster; and
  • A real-time map with open Red Cross shelter locations and weather information.
  • The app is available in app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

    Heeding Storm Warnings: A severe storm WATCH means severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the designated area. People in a watch area should keep informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. A severe storm WARNING means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar.  Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Seek shelter immediately. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.

    For more information on what to do before, during and after severe weather, people can go to


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    Donate to the Red Cross

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    About the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois:

    The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois serves 9.5 million people in 21 counties in Northern Illinois including Boone, Bureau, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will and Winnebago. 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 us at or visit us on Twitter at @ChicagoRedCross.