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Storms Cause Severe Flooding; Red Cross Responding
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Red Cross
March 21, 2008

Across the Midwest, the beginning of spring has shown that March not only comes in like a lion, it often remains one for much of the month.

A family in House Springs, Missouri, awaits rescue as rising waters threaten their farmhouse. (Photo by Emily Rasinski/St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)
A family in House Springs, Missouri, awaits rescue as rising waters threaten their farmhouse. (Photo by Emily Rasinski/St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

Red Cross chapters and volunteers in four states are responding to severe spring storms that have resulted in near-record floods this week. The Red Cross is providing shelter, feeding, and other emergency assistance to residents affected by flooding in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. The Red Cross is working with community partners such as local churches, the Southern Baptist Convention, and local emergency management officials to provide support and assistance.

If weather forecasts call for possible flooding in your community, act now to prepare by taking the following actions.

  1. Know what to expect:
    • Know your area's flood risk. If you are unsure, contact your local Red Cross chapter, emergency management office, or planning and zoning department.
    • If it has been raining hard for several hours or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
    • Listen to local radio or TV stations for flood information.
  2. Reduce potential flood damage:
    • Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel if they are located in areas of your home that may be flooded.
    • Consult a professional for additional information about whether these and other measures can be taken to reduce flood damage.
  3. Understand flood advisories:
    • A flood or flash flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area.
    • A flood or flash flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
  4. Prepare a family disaster plan:
    • Check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding. If not, find out how to get flood insurance.
    • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box.
    • Identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places, such as a friend's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.
    • Develop written instructions for how and when to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn gas back on.)
    • Don't forget your pets. Click here for tips on pet safety during emergencies.
  5. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with these items:
    • First aid kit and essential medications
    • Canned food and a can opener
    • At least one gallon of water per person per day
    • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags
    • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
    • Special items for infants and elderly or disabled family members

Don't Wait—Evacuate!

If a flood or flash flood WATCH is issued, move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home. Fill your car's gas tank so you're prepared if an evacuation notice is issued. Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.

If a flood or flash flood WARNING is issued, listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.

If you think flooding has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades; they are there for your safety.

Once you are secure from flooding, be sure to register on the Safe and Well list so family and friends can confirm that you are safe.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation's blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.

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