Disaster responders with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois were distributing cleanup kits to people affected by flooding in Winnebago and Stephenson Counties over the weekend. A Red Cross cleanup kit contains cleaning supplies like a mop, broom, plastic bags, gloves, face mask, sponge and cleaning solution. Over 90 kits were given out on Sunday, March 31 in addition to the nearly 300 distributed last week.
For more than two weeks, Red Cross volunteers have been hard at work in the community helping those that have been impacted by the devastating floods, initially hosting shelters for those evacuated and now working toward recovery support. We encourage anyone who has been impacted by the Northwest IL flooding in the Rockford or Freeport area to call the Red Cross flood assistance hotline 872-529-1784.
On Sunday, other Red Cross volunteers were in Jo Daviess County installing free smoke alarms in Galena and Elizabeth and providing fire safety information along with the Elizabeth Fire Department and other local partners. Volunteers installed 248 new smoke alarms with 10-year batteries in 90 homes.
In addition to these activities, Red Cross volunteers are always at the ready to respond to home fires across the 21-county region. Red Cross disaster workers have responded to 34 fires from Monday, March 25 to today in the region including fires in Rockford, Harvey, Evanston, Rock Falls, Hopkins Park, Chana and 17 of those fires happening in Chicago.
The fires in the past week affected 108 people including 75 adults and 33 children.
The Red Cross provided resources to help address the immediate basic needs of those affected such as temporary housing, food, clothing, comfort kits with toiletry items, information about recovery services, and health and mental health services. Additional information about these incidents, if available, may be obtained from the local first responding agency/fire department.
Responding volunteers are members of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, a group of specially trained volunteers who respond to the scene of a disaster when called upon any time of the day or night.
FLOOD SAFETY AND CLEANUP: The Red Cross has steps for someone to follow if their community is affected by flooding:
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice, have an emergency response kit
- If a flood or flash flood warning is issued for someone’s area, they should head for higher ground and stay there.
- People should stay away from floodwaters. If someone comes across an area where water is above their ankles, they should stop, turn around and go another way. If they encounter a flooded road while driving, they should also turn around and go another way. If the car is caught in rising water, they should get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
- It is important to be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flood dangers.
- Children are curious and should be kept out of the water.
- Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damages.
- 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.
- Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater. When in doubt, throw it out!
- When it is safe to return home, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
- During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
HOW TO HELP: The Red Cross depends on financial donations to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by severe storms, fires and flooding by visiting redcross.org or calling 1- 800-RED CROSS. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
DONATE BLOOD: The Red Cross also has a critical need for blood and platelet donations to help meet patient needs. The Red Cross asks eligible individuals to make an appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
The Red Cross responds to 3 to 4 home fires every day in Chicago and northern Illinois. The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and loved ones from a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan. For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information visit www.redcross.org/prepare.
About the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois:
The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois serves 9.5 million people in 21 counties including Boone, Bureau, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will and Winnebago. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit us at redcross.org/il/chicago or visit us on Twitter @ChicagoRedCross.