Our thoughts are with everyone whose lives were changed forever by the horrific and deadly tornadoes that touched down overnight across the center of the country.
The American Red Cross and our partners are working around the clock across multiple states to help those in need and make sure everyone has a safe place to stay, food to eat, critical relief supplies, emotional support and comfort in the face of one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in years.
At least 24 tornadoes ripped across six states in the dark of night, impacting people in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Initial reports show that some communities have suffered significant damage with homes and buildings destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of people left without power.
Several emergency shelters are open to provide comfort for people who can’t return home. As the weather clears, Red Cross volunteers will be out in affected communities assessing the damage left behind to help determine the types of support people may need in the coming days and weeks.
THREAT NOT OVER The National Weather Service reports the severe weather continues today from the Ohio and Tennessee valleys to the northern Gulf States. As Red Cross workers respond to last night’s tornadoes, we urge everyone who remains in the path of this ongoing severe weather system to listen to the advice of local officials and be ready to get to a safe place quickly in case of a tornado warning. Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for access to real-time information and safety tips. The Emergency app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The Red Cross has provided more than 160 blood products to hospitals in response to these devastating tornadoes. We remain in touch with our hospital partners throughout affected areas and stand ready to provide additional blood products as needed. We also anticipate Red Cross blood drives in affected communities may be canceled or experience lower donor turnout in the coming days, further challenging an already historically low blood supply.
YOU CAN HELP people affected by disasters like storms, home fires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Those in areas unaffected by this tornado outbreak are urged to make an appointment today to give blood and ensure blood products are available for patients wherever the need arises.
Your donation is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single contribution matters, enabling the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. To make a financial donation or schedule an appointment to give blood or platelets, visit redcross.org or call 800-RED CROSS. You can also use the Red Cross Blood Donor app or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift today.
CONNECT WITH A LOVED ONE If you are unable to locate someone who has been impacted by the storms, call during off-peak hours for the best chance of getting through. Send a text message, which may go through when phone calls cannot. You can also check your loved one’s social media pages or send an email. Call friends and relatives who may have already been in contact with your loved one or call people and places where your loved one is well-known; neighbors, employer, school, place of worship, senior center, social club/center, union or fraternal organization.
If your missing loved one is elderly, has a functional or access needs, suffers from a medical or mental condition or has difficulty understanding the English language, you can reach out to your local Red Cross for assistance. If you lived with your missing loved one in the same home prior to the disaster but became separated, or they are a member of the military community, please reach out to your local Red Cross chapter for assistance.
AFTER A TORNADO (More tornado safety information available here.) Return to your neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so.
- Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwaters.
- If you have children, leave them with a relative or friend while you conduct the first inspection of your home after the disaster.
- Check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks, missing support beams and other damage. Ask a building inspector or contractor to check the structure before you enter.
- If power lines are down outside your home, don't step in puddles or standing water. Report them immediately to the power company.
- Don't cut or walk past colored tape that was placed over doors or windows to mark damaged areas, unless you've been told that it is safe to do so. If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on the home, don't enter until you get more information, advice and instructions from your local authorities.
- If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, leave the property immediately and get far away from it. Call the fire department after you reach safety.
IF YOUR POWER IS OUT (More power outage safety information can be found here.). There are ways that you can minimize loss and keep everyone as comfortable as possible.
- Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
- Don’t drive unless necessary. Traffic lights will be out, and roads could be congested.
- Turn off and unplug any appliances, equipment and electronics. When the power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
- Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.
If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing perishable foods. During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food.
- Use perishable food from the refrigerator first. Then, use food from the freezer.
- Perishable food is safe to eat when it has a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- If the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot and cover it at all times.
If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement or other partially enclosed area. Keep this equipment outside and away from doors, windows and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Operate the generator on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up by poles. Don’t touch a generator with wet hands.
- Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could catch fire.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet.
COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission. We are providing the same types of support we always have, and ensuring people have a safe place to stay during disasters is a critical part of that support. How we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency plans and the scale of the disaster.
Responding to disasters is a team effort and no single organization can do it alone — particularly in this current environment. To help keep everyone safe, we’re using safety precautions including masks, health screenings, enhanced cleaning procedures and encouraging social distancing regardless of vaccine status.
The Red Cross helps anyone in need after a disaster, and everyone is welcome in our shelters. We encourage people who plan to stay in a Red Cross shelter to bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, other comfort items and important documents. Don’t forget to bring any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.
CORPORATIONS, FOUNDATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS HELP The generous donations from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and the Disaster Responder Program enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters big and small, respond whenever and wherever disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.
ADGP $1 Million members are: Amazon; American Airlines; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Anthem Foundation; Bank of America; Caterpillar Foundation; Costco Wholesale; Delta Air Lines; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; FedEx; The Home Depot Foundation; Latter-day Saint Charities; Lilly Endowment Inc.; Lowe's Companies, Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Nationwide Foundation; The Starbucks Foundation; State Farm; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited; Truist Foundation; VSP Global; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; and Wells Fargo.
ADGP $500,000 members are: Altria Group; Aon; Best Buy; Calmoseptine, Inc.; Capital One; Citi Foundation; The Clorox Company; Darden Foundation; Delta Dental Community Care Foundation; Edison International; Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation; Ford Motor Company Fund; Fox Corporation; General Motors; HCA Healthcare; International Paper; The J.M. Smucker Company; Johnson Controls Foundation; The Kroger Co. Foundation; LHC Group; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Mastercard; Merck; Mondelēz International Foundation; New Balance Foundation; PayPal; PepsiCo Foundation; Salesforce; Southeastern Grocers Gives Foundation & Southeastern Grocers, home of Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie; Stanley Black & Decker; Target; The TJX Companies, Inc.; Toyota; United Airlines; UPS; USAA; Visa Foundation; The Walt Disney Company; and The Wawa Foundation.
Disaster Responder Program members are: 7-Eleven Cares Foundation; Adobe; Alliance Data; American Express; Ameriprise Financial, Inc.; Assurant; AT&T; AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; Avangrid Foundation; The Ball Foundation; Barclays; Big 5 Sporting Goods; CarMax; Choice Hotels International; Cisco Foundation; CNA Insurance; The Coca-Cola Company; CSX; The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation; Discover; Dollar General; Duke Energy; Equitable; FirstEnergy Foundation; Grainger; Harbor Freight Tools Foundation, LLC; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation; HP Foundation; Humble Bundle; Kaiser Permanente; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; The Kraft Heinz Company Foundation; The Labcorp Charitable Foundation; Lenovo Foundation; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc.; Mattress Firm; McKesson; Neiman Marcus Group; NextEra Energy, Inc.; Northrop Grumman; Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation; Old Dominion Freight Line; Procter & Gamble; Prudential Financial; Raytheon Technologies; Rodan + Fields Prescription for Change Foundation; Ross Stores Foundation; Ryder System, Inc.; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; Security Finance’s Lending Hand Foundation; ServiceNow, Inc.; Southwest Airlines; U-Haul International; and U.S. Bank Foundation.