WASHINGTON, April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross is responding across multiple states, helping people affected by the storm that is causing catastrophic flooding in Florida and Alabama after the weather system's devastating tornadoes over the past several days in other states.
A total of 430 people spent Tuesday night in 29 Red Cross and community shelters in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The Red Cross has already served nearly 9,000 meals and snacks to people affected by this storm.
Areas around Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida received as much as two feet of rain overnight. The Red Cross is working with emergency management officials and prepositioned supplies and resources before the storm hit the area.
"The Red Cross continues to expand its relief efforts as this severe weather affects more communities," said Richard Reed, senior vice president, Disaster Cycle Services for the Red Cross. "Red Cross workers are responding from Arkansas to Florida to make sure people have a safe place to stay and food to eat - and they'll still be there in the weeks ahead to help people recover from this devastating storm."
In Florida, the Red Cross has multiple shelters open to help people forced from their homes by the ongoing flooding. Additional volunteers and supplies are ready to support the affected communities as weather conditions permit. The Red Cross is working closely with emergency management officials to coordinate support efforts.
In Alabama, Red Cross workers are visiting neighborhoods and recording damage to homes to help people affected by Monday's tornadoes and flooding along the Gulf Coast. Shelters are open in several locations and mobile feeding vehicles are serving hot meals. Red Cross mental health workers are helping with the emotional needs of people whose homes were destroyed.
Red Cross workers in Mississippi are helping residents after three days of hail, winds and tornadoes. More than 85 workers are providing shelter, meals, and relief supplies – and more volunteers are being mobilized. One shelter opened during the night to help people affected by the flooding near Biloxi. Red Cross Emergency Aid Stations will open today where people can receive health and mental health services and information on what recovery assistance is available.
In Arkansas, residents are still recovering from the tornadoes which hit the area Sunday. The Red Cross has shelters open and is working with Southern Baptist Disaster Teams to provide meals. Red Cross emergency vehicles are taking meals out to neighborhoods impacted by the storm and mental health workers are delivering teddy bears to children whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
Tornadoes also damaged homes in parts of northwest Louisiana this week and the Red Cross is providing help for those affected, including meals for those impacted by the storm and first responders and others helping with the clean-up. Red Cross workers in Georgia are helping families whose homes were damaged by storms this week and responded to several fires caused by lightning strikes.
After tornadoes destroyed homes in several counties in Tennessee, the Red Cross mobilized dozens of disaster workers, opened a shelter, provided meals and relief supplies and is working to meet the immediate need distributing food and things like blankets, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, water and tarps.
Residents of Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri are also recovering from the tornadoes and Red Cross workers are providing shelter, meals, relief supplies, health and mental health services. The Red Cross is also helping open a Multi-Agency Resource Center in Oklahoma and Kansas where people can come to get help available from different agencies.
The Red Cross tornado app has sent more than 5.5 million storm alerts since Sunday to several hundred thousand people each day when severe weather threatened. The app can be downloaded directly from the iTunes or Google Play app stores by searching for American Red Cross.
FLOODING SAFETYThe storm is still a threat to many. Heavy rain and flooding are possible from the southeast all along the East Coast to New England, and people should be prepared to evacuate if ordered. Other flooding safety steps are:
Pack a disaster kit including a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food for each person in the household and items such as a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, medications, sanitation and personal hygiene items, cell phones and chargers, extra cash and copies of important papers.
Download the Red Cross flood app for mobile devices. One-touch "I'm safe" messaging allows users to let family and friends know that they are out of harm's way. The app gives simple instructions on what to do even if cell towers and television reception are down and lets people locate open shelters. Users can also receive NOAA flood and flash flood watches and warnings.
If a flood or flash flood warning is issued, people in that area should head for higher ground and stay there.
Stay away from floodwaters whether walking or driving
Keep children out of the water.
Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
HOW TO HELPThose who would like to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
About the American Red Cross: 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 redcross.orgor visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.