Preliminary estimates show as many as 4,500 homes were impacted by this week’s devastating flooding in the greater Houston area and the American Red Cross is there, making sure people are getting the help they need.
Red Cross workers are providing shelter, meals, relief supplies and comfort in and around Houston. Wednesday as many as 325 people spent the night in 7 Red Cross shelters. Working with the Southern Baptist Convention which is preparing meals, the Red Cross is providing food in the shelters and throughout some of the affected neighborhoods.
Red Cross caseworkers will also be meeting with people to help them plan their next steps. Red Cross health workers are helping with things like lost prescription medications and eyeglasses and mental health workers are helping people cope in a very trying situation. The Red Cross is also distributing relief supplies including items such as flashlights, gloves, totes, trash cans, buckets, insect repellant and masks.
While the weather is improving, more flooding is possible. Rivers in the area are expected to remain above flood stage until sometime next week. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation with emergency officials and will respond if needed.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The Red Cross has responded to three times more large-scale disasters during the first months of 2016 than the previous three years combined along with helping at the scene of hundreds of home fires and other smaller disasters every day.
The Red Cross needs the public’s help now. They can give to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
Today also offers another unique opportunity to help. Today is the Red Cross 2016 Giving Day. People can #help1family who has lost everything to a disaster by participating.
Giving Day is a one-day fundraising campaign supporting the Red Cross mission to help people in need of emergency support. People can support the effort by visiting the Giving Day website, entering their information, sending their gift will be on its way to help people in need.
So far there have been more than 1,200 water rescues around Houston, many involving people driving into flooded areas. The Red Cross has safety steps people should follow:Turn around, don’t drown. If 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.People living in communities threatened by flooding should keep informed about weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials. Follow evacuation orders. Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Keep children out of the water.Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood danger.
RETURNING HOMEDo not attempt to return to affected areas until officials say it is safe to do so.If you are able to go home, look for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, cracks in the foundation or other damage before you enter your home.During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out.Contact your local or state public health department to see if your water supply might be contaminated. You may need to boil or treat it before use. Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information and shelter locations available on your mobile device. The Emergency App features emergency weather alerts to help keep the user safe, and provides information about what to do in case of floods as well as the locations of open shelters. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.