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American Red Cross Responds to Floods and Tornadoes in Central United States
Date:6/9/2008

Relief efforts underway throughout Midwest, but also in West Virginia

WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Storms and heavy rainfall have caused serious flash flooding in already saturated areas of the central United States. In response, the American Red Cross has mobilized relief workers to six states in the devastated areas. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss.

Relief efforts are already underway in Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin where the Red Cross is providing for the immediate needs of the tornado and flood victims, including food and shelter; with workers poised and ready to respond in Illinois and Michigan as the situation develops. West Virginia is also seeing substantial flooding and Red Cross workers are responding there, as well. Nearly 1100 Red Cross workers, including more than 900 volunteers, are deployed throughout the widespread area.

Red Cross shelters are open throughout the affected states to give displaced families a place where they can sleep, get vital information about available assistance, have a hot meal, talk with a mental health worker or meet with a health services worker about any of their healthcare needs. Meanwhile, Red Cross disaster assessment workers are preparing to scour the areas, once they are safely accessible, to determine the extent of the widespread devastation. Thirty Emergency Response Vehicles are also outfitted to deliver food, water, comfort and hygiene supplies and will be mobilized within the communities where needs are apparent.

"It is with the help of the American public that we are able to respond to the disasters in the Midwest, as well as the disasters that occur every day in local communities across the country that you may not hear about," said Joe Becker, senior vice president, Disaster Services for the American Red Cross. "Donations to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund can help aid in the recovery for victims of these and other disasters."

Tornadoes, nature's most violent storms, can occur any time throughout the year and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an average of about 1,200 tornadoes and 60 tornado-related deaths are reported in the United States every year. The tornado season is in full swing and the likelihood of continued storms, tornadoes and flooding remains high. The recent offspring of floods and tornadoes has uprooted the lives of many, and the Red Cross continues to urge families and communities to prepare:

-- Create and Practice a Home Disaster Plan: Develop flood-specific

planning. Learn about your area's flood risk and elevation above

flood stage. Contact your local Red Cross chapter, emergency management

office, local National Weather Service office, or planning and zoning

department about your area's flood risk.

-- Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit

and essential medications, canned food and manual can opener, bottled

water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and

other emergency items for the whole family.

-- Heed Storm Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for

updated storm information. A storm WATCH is a message indicating that

conditions favor the occurrence of a certain type of hazardous weather.

A storm WARNING indicates that a hazardous event is occurring or is

imminent in about 30 minutes to an hour.

-- Understand flood hazards. Floods can roll boulders, tear out trees,

destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Even a

shallow depth of fast-moving flood water produces more force than most

people imagine. The most dangerous thing you can do is to try walking,

swimming, or driving through flood waters. Two feet of water will carry

away most automobiles.

-- Prepare for High Winds: Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor

decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else

that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile. Make trees more

wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then

strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through.

For more information on tornado or flood preparedness, contact your local Red Cross chapter or visit http://www.redcross.org.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; 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 humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit http://www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://www.redcrosschat.org.


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SOURCE American Red Cross
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