Disaster responders with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois are winding down the response to severe flooding Stephenson and Winnebago Counties as well as continuing to respond to fires across the 21-county region. Volunteers responded to 21 fires from Monday, March 18 to today in the region including fires in Franklin Park, Rockford, Arlington Heights, Oak Lawn and 14 of those fires happening in Chicago.
The fires in the past week affected 97 people including 71 adults and 26 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.
Multiple flood shelters were opened in response to the Pecatonica and Rock Rivers flooding in Rockford and Freeport. One shelter at Riverside Community Church in Machesney Park remains open with three residents.
On Sunday, the Red Cross of Northwest Illinois along with several other community partners distributed flood cleanup supplies in Freeport. Eighty-six cleanup kits were given out at the event.
Anyone needing assistance due to the flooding in the Rockford and Freeport area should call the Red Cross Flood Helpline at (872) 529-1784.
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.