The American Red Cross is responding across four states after tornadoes and strong storms slammed into Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida yesterday.
Red Cross disaster workers opened shelters, distributed relief supplies and are helping to assess the damage. Hardest hit was southern Louisiana, including parts of New Orleans. As many as 50 people spent Tuesday night in two shelters and the Red Cross is distributing tarps, cleaning materials, snacks and water.
In Alabama, a tornado touched down in the Andalusia area and the Red Cross is helping with damage assessment. The weather affected as many as 20 homes in Clay County, Florida, and the Red Cross is working with officials to determine what help is needed. The Red Cross is also helping in Mississippi after severe weather hit the state.
Officials report there were at least nine tornadoes yesterday in the region, along with numerous reports of strong winds and hail. Two schools in Orleans Parish sustained heavy damage and at least 26,000 people are without power across the area.
AFTER A TORNADO
The following are safety steps people should take as they return home:
- Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
- Stay out of damaged buildings.
- If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
- Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
- Use battery-powered flashlights when examining buildings – do NOT use candles.
- 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.
- Keep all of your animals under your direct control.
EMERGENCY APP People should download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to advice on what to do in emergencies and disasters like tornadoes. The app also contains weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for mobile devices. More information is available here.
POWER OUTAGE SAFETY
If the power is out, people should follow these steps to remain safe:
- Use flash lights in the dark, not candles.
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
- Use generators safely.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- First use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Then use food from the freezer.
- Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
- If it looks like 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 keep it covered at all times.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
- Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
- Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.