Red Cross Responding to Hurricane Earl in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

30 Aug, 2010, 13:43 ET from American Red Cross

Storms Causing Dangerous Rip Currents Along East Coast

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross is keeping a close watch on Hurricane Earl as the storm gains strength in the Atlantic Ocean, threatening the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with possible effects along the East Coast later this week.

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Earl is a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds hitting 125 mph, and is expected to gain strength over the next few days. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are in the storm's direct path and could see storm surges as high as five feet with four to eight inches of rain. These rains could cause life-threatening floods and mudslides.

Earl is the second storm to move through the Atlantic in the last few days, coming on the heels of Hurricane Danielle. Though Danielle's threat has weakened, the storm is still causing winds as high as 75 mph and will remain a powerful storm in the North Atlantic for the next several days. There is a good chance of a third storm forming out of a new low pressure system which would move in behind Earl.

"This year, hurricane season was predicted to be very busy and the Red Cross is prepared if those forecasts come true," reported Joe Becker, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. "We are on the ground in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, supporting local Red Cross efforts there. Disaster relief supplies are ready in warehouses in both areas. We are also finalizing response preparations with local, state and federal government agencies along the East Coast should the storm head for the U.S. mainland."

The Red Cross Saturday deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands a seven-member disaster relief team with experience on logistics, feeding, mass care and operations. This morning, Red Cross and government partners opened four shelter facilities: one on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and two on St. John. The shelters are staffed with Red Cross and government workers and have cots, blankets, and food in them.  In addition, there is a Red Cross warehouse on St. Thomas stocked with additional disaster relief supplies that are ready to be dispatched where needed.

The chain of Atlantic storms has been causing powerful rip currents all along the East Coast. With the Labor Day holiday weekend only a few days away, the Red Cross advises anyone visiting eastern shore points to swim only on lifeguard-protected beaches, within the designated swimming areas.

If caught in a rip current, remember the following:

  • Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
  • Never fight against the current.
  • Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
  • If unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
  • If unable to reach shore, yell for help and draw attention to yourself.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

"The most important thing people can do is prepare now in case their area ends up in the path of this storm," Becker said.  "Don't wait until the last minute. Safety is the top priority."

Hurricane preparedness tips and ways to help people affected by the storm are at www.redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

SOURCE American Red Cross



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