Red Cross rushes relief to tornado-ravaged Midwest
In response to the barrage of recent tornadoes, the American Red Cross is rushing hundreds of relief workers to the devastated areas. Relief operations are already under way in Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, where the Red Cross is providing for the immediate needs of the tornado victims, including food and shelter, as well as grief counseling and emergency healthcare and medication needs.
To support the Midwest tornado relief operations, the Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross has two disaster volunteers who have left on assignment, and more are waiting mobilization.
Already, more than a dozen Red Cross shelters have opened 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 health care needs. Meanwhile, Red Cross damage assessment workers are scouring the affected areas to determine the extent of the widespread devastation. Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) outfitted to deliver food, water, comfort and hygiene supplies, as well as mobile kitchens, that can serve 5,000 meals per day, have been mobilized within the affected communities.
The Red Cross has activated a toll-free information and resource hotline, 1-866-GET-INFO. Callers to this hotline can learn shelter locations, recovery and preparedness information, where and how to receive Red Cross assistance or speak with a mental health counselor who can help those coping with the emotional trauma from the tornadoes. The Red Cross is also working to connect loved ones from outside the affected areas with family members in tornado-impacted communities. Those seeking information about the welfare of family members should call 1-866-GET-INFO.
Preparing for natural disasters
Natures most violent storms, tornadoes can occur any time throughout the year and have been recorded in every state and are numerous each year in the Midwest.
Last year, the Red Cross provided lifesaving disaster relief for more than 4,775 families whose lives were turned upside down by the devastating power of 32 tornadoes that roared through U.S. communities. In the aftermath of these storms, Red Cross disaster relief workers provided safe shelter for more than 710 displaced residents in 47 shelters and served more than 437,000 meals.
The tornado season is now in full swing, and the likelihood of continued storms and tornadoes remains high. The recent offspring of tornadoes has uprooted the lives of many, and the Red Cross continues to urge communities to be prepared.
n Creating and Practicing a Home Tornado Plan: Pick an uncluttered place where family could seek shelter: a basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor.
n Assembling 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.
n Heeding Storm Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to safety.
n Preparing for High Winds: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. 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.
For more information on tornado preparedness, contact the Rock River Chapter, (815) 963-8471, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-866-GET-INFO.