Red Cross Delivers Relief, Comfort After Midwest Tornadoes

Red Cross ERV arrives to help with tornado damage in the midwest

An American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle stops to deliver lunch on Margrave Street, one of the hardest hit streets in Brookport, IL.

We definitely didn’t see this coming.

The American Red Cross is working around the clock to help people in the Midwest impacted by the weekend’s devastating tornadoes.

About 40 people spent Wednesday night in ten Red Cross shelters in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. More than 400 trained disaster workers are providing shelter, food, relief supplies, health and mental health services in the affected areas. As many as 20 emergency vehicles are distributing food and relief supplies in neighborhoods impacted by the storm. In Illinois and Indiana the Red Cross has served more than 25,000 meals and snacks, handed out more than 1,100 relief items and provided more than 500 health and mental health services.

In the days ahead, Red Cross workers will join several partner agencies to set up multi-agency resource centers. In these centers, residents will be able to connect with a range of services offered by community organizations.

In Brookport, Illinois, the Red Cross is providing meals, relief supplies and shelter to those affected. Kathadale Harris was just a few miles away at home as a tornado rammed through H and H Feed Store, her family’s business for nearly three decades. “My granddaughter loves this place and I usually bring her with me,” Harris said. “Thank God it was Sunday and we weren’t around.”

Tornadoes have come through this town of 900 in past years, but the damage this time around was beyond devastating. “It’s held up through all kinds of storms,” Harris said of her family’s store. “So we definitely didn’t see this coming.”

The Red Cross is assisting many residents in this southern Illinois town. Hundreds of meals have been served to those needing a quick break from the clean-up. Harris watched with tears in her eyes as her son, daughter and other family members picked up what was left of their store. “I’m just glad because it could be much worse,” she said.

In Washington, Illinois, tornadoes destroyed the 208-unit Georgetown Commons apartment complex. “The residents had to leave everything and just get out after the tornadoes hit,” explained Michael McCormick, who works for the management company that oversees the complex. “I allow them to come and search through the exterior rubble, but the buildings still standing are too dangerous to enter.” Red Cross workers are in the area, serving meals to those in need.

ONGOING EFFORTS The Red Cross will be helping people affected by the tornadoes in the coming weeks as they get back on their feet. Trained Red Cross caseworkers are meeting one-on-one with people who need extra help with unmet emergency needs and creating recovery plans. Red Cross assistance for people whose homes were destroyed or suffered major damage could include support for housing, replacing household items and clothing, and food costs. Volunteers are also helping connect people with local community resources and social service programs, fill out paperwork for assistance or insurance claims, provide counseling or help to identify child care resources. The Red Cross is coordinating closely with government and community partners to provide help and support recovery efforts.

SAFETY INFORMATION The Red Cross reminds affected residents to return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so. They should also:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes.
  • Avoid fallen power lines or broken gas lines - immediately report them to the utility companies.
  • If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window, get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department.
  • Use flashlights, not candles when examining buildings.
  • HOW TO HELP People affected by severe weather and other disasters need help now. You can help people affected by disasters big and small by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. You can donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

    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.

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