The American Red Cross is responding across multiple states after this week’s severe weather, while continuing to assist people impacted by the recent flooding in California.
In California, more than 240 people remain in shelters, where flood warnings continue in some areas. Officials are warning people should avoid the possibly contaminated flood waters, and Red Cross workers are providing shelter, food and relief supplies, and are helping people plan their next steps.
In Arkansas, tornadoes affected more than 175 homes. The Red Cross is distributing relief supplies, helping to assess the damage and meeting with people to plan what to do next. Severe weather also affected residents of Gibson and Scott Counties in Indiana, and the Red Cross has shelters open and workers are distributing meals and relief supplies.
More than 200 homes in Kentucky were also affected by severe weather this week, and Laurel, Madison, Estrill, Carroll and Grant counties have declared states of emergency. Red Cross workers are helping to assess the damage and are providing food and shelter.
Severe weather also left thousands without power in New York, where temperatures were to drop below freezing. The Red Cross is working with officials to provide food and shelter within the affected areas.
BE PREPARED People should build an easy-to-carry emergency kit, which should include three days of supplies for everyone in the household. You should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information and open shelter locations at your fingertips. It also features emergency weather alerts to help keep the user safe, and provides information about what to do in case of various disasters. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
IF FLOODING OCCURS Listen to local media for possible flood warnings or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). People should also:
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- When a flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger
TORNADO SAFETY Steps to remember if a tornado warning is issued include:
- Go to an underground shelter, basement or safe room if available. A hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is also a safe alternative.
- Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, get out of the mobile home immediately and go to either.
- If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
- If you can’t walk to a shelter quickly, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If debris is flying while you are driving, pull over and park. You can stay in the car with the seat belt on, putting your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket if possible.
THUNDERSTORMS If thunder roars, go indoors and stay inside for at least 30 minutes after the thunder stops. Other safety steps include:
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur.
- If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
- Avoid using electrical equipment and telephones.
- Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use running water.
- If driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
- If outside and unable to reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.
More information on what to do before, during and after all types of emergencies is available in the Preparedness section of redcross.org.