Thursday, July 11, 2019 — The powerful storm headed to the Gulf Coast is predicted to bring strong winds, as much as 20 inches of rain and a dangerous storm surge to the region through the weekend. The American Red Cross is preparing to respond as necessary and offers steps people can take to be ready for this severe weather.
The Red Cross has disaster workers standing by, and is pre-positioning relief supplies in Louisiana, Texas, and other coastal communities for evacuation centers and sheltering operations after the storm makes landfall. Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs) are also on alert.
Get Ready for Flooding
The exact track of the storm is still uncertain but could affect communities from Texas to Florida and areas inland. Tropical storm and hurricane watches are already issued for parts of Louisiana where mandatory and voluntary evacuations have been ordered in areas along the coast.
Officials in New Orleans and surrounding parishes are concerned about water going over several levees, causing flooding in areas which have already received several inches of rain this week.
People should know the difference between a watch and warning. A watch means that a flood or flash flood is possible in your area, while a warning means that flooding/flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
If you are in the path of this storm, be prepared to evacuate. Leave the area if local officials tell you to do so. Don’t return home until officials say it is safe. Stay informed - tune into your local radio, NOAA radio or news channels for the latest updates. Flooding is almost certain to occur, and people can follow these safety steps:
- Pack your emergency kit. Include a gallon of water per person, per day – 3 days for evacuation, 2-week supply for home. Also pack a 3-day supply of non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery or hand crank radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, sanitation and personal hygiene items, cell phone with charger, family and emergency contact information, extra cash, a map of the area and items for babies, anyone with special needs and your pets.
- Make sure everyone in your household knows what to do if a flood watch or warning is issued.
- Keep insurance policies, valuables and other important documents in a safe deposit box or a safe place not likely to be damaged in a flood. Take pictures and keep copies of important documents and files on a flash drive that you can carry with you.
- Don’t forget your pets. Prepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals.
Right Before a Flood
- Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
- Be prepared to evacuate quickly if directed and know your routes and destinations. If someone needs to find a shelter they can visit redcross.org/shelter. .
During a Flood
- Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground. Evacuate if directed. Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
- Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage.
- Avoid already flooded areas and areas that are subject to sudden flooding such as dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc. Stay away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
- Do not attempt to cross flowing streams or water covered roads.
- If caught in a flash flood, try to get to higher ground and stay there. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
- Turn around and find another route if you come upon floodwater, rapidly rising water or barricades.
- Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water. It may be contaminated with sewage.
More information, including a flood safety checklist in several languages, is available here.
RIP CURRENTS The severe weather is also expected to cause dangerous rip currents along much of the coast through the weekend. Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year and most of the rescues performed by lifeguards.
- If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight it.
- Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Then, turn and swim to shore.
- If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore. Draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps. These apps are also available in Spanish.