Wildfires and Floods Affect Part of U.S. – Red Cross Responds

A Red Cross volunteer and a firefighter talk while wildfires burn in the distance.
Whether wildfire or flood – be ready to evacuate quickly.

The American Red Cross is responding to flooding in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania while continuing to help people out west where wildfires continue to burn.

In Rhode Island, heavy rain led to flooding and forced residents of several apartment buildings to evacuate. Red Cross workers provided shelter, food and relief supplies to those affected. Heavy rains also saturated several counties in Pennsylvania and the Red Cross deployed damage assessment teams, distributed items to help with the clean-up and is working with evacuees to ensure they get the help they need.

Showers and thunderstorms are possible out west as well as across the Midwest and South today. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation and is prepared to respond if necessary.

If someone’s neighborhood is threatened by flooding, they should take the following steps:

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If someone comes upon a flowing stream where water is above their ankles, they should stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of water can sweep them off their feet.
  • If someone encounters a flooded road while driving, they should turn around and go another way. Do not attempt to drive through the water. If caught on a flooded road, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Be especially cautions at night when it is harder to see flood danger.
  • Keep children out of the water.
  • Additional flood safety tips are available on this web site.

    WILDFIRES Meanwhile wildfires are still burning across the western half of the country and weather conditions over the next few days won’t be of much help. Severe thunderstorms are forecast and dry lightning from the storms could cause more fires. Red flag warnings are up in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will occur shortly.

    Currently ten states are reporting large fires, including Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. One of the largest fires is the Rim Fire in California, where the American Red Cross continues to provide shelter for people forced out of their homes by the flames. The fire has consumed more than 235,000 acres and is the fourth largest fire in California history.

    The largest fires have occurred in California, Utah and Idaho where as of Tuesday Red Cross workers have provided more than 990 shelter stays and served more than 24,000 meals and snacks for residents affected by the fire.

    WILDFIRE SAFETY If wildfires are possible in someone’s community, they should listen to local officials and be ready to evacuate quickly. Safety steps include the following:

  • 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.
  • Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
  • Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles that are already inside your home.
  • If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider's advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.
  • Pack an emergency disaster kit now including water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications, sanitation and personal hygiene items, important papers and cell phones and chargers, extra cash and maps of the area. People can also download the free Red Cross Wildfire App to get the latest fire news from local, state and federal agencies as well as access to preloaded information about what to do before, during and after a wildfire. The app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. More information is available on this web site.

    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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