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Red Cross Advises Evacuees to Stay Put Until Conditions Are Safe

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Although what was once Hurricane Gustav has weakened to a tropical depression, the American Red Cross urges all evacuees to stay away from affected areas until authorities deem it safe to return.

"We know people are eager to go home, especially if they think the danger has passed," said Joe Becker, Senior Vice President of Disaster Services. "However, we ask that people be patient, since conditions are still unsafe in many places." If authorities have not given the all-clear for residents to return, they could be denied entry into their community. It is still hazardous to return to many areas, as Gustav has caused flooding and massive power outages, as well as downed power lines and trees. Tornadoes are also possible in the wake of the storm.

For residents still in the path of Tropical Depression Gustav who are experiencing power outages, the Red Cross offers this advice:

-- Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles.

-- Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out.

-- Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.

-- Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.

-- If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system.

-- Listen to local radio and television for updated information.

The Red Cross has 343 shelters open in 10 states, housing a population of nearly 60,000 people. Its many workers are providing evacuees with food, shelter and emotional support, and are prepared to do so until it is safe for people to go home. The Red Cross is also preparing to move into storm-hit areas in order to provide services to returning residents. Gustav has cost the Red Cross $20 million to date.

The Red Cross is now readying itself as a busy Atlantic Ocean brings tropical storms Hanna, Ike and Josephine.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

SOURCE American Red Cross
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