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Memories of Gustav Alive and Well for Returning Residents; East Coast Should Prepare for Next Round
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Leslie A. Smith
September 3, 2008

Although the rain and weather associated with Hurricane Gustav has diminished, the tough road for the storm survivors is just beginning. Thousands of people will begin to return home this week to face the destruction Gustav left behind.

Henry's Kitchen
Henry's Kitchen is a mobile trailer that is driven to disaster sites for the preparation of hot meals. This unit is a completely self-contained industrial kitchen capable of producing thousands of meals per day.
Photo Credit: Gene Dailey/American Red Cross, Baton Rouge, LA

As residents return to the affected areas, the American Red Cross will be there mounting a large-scale feeding operation, serving meals at shelters and in neighborhoods, distributing clean-up kits and lending a ready ear to provide emotional support. Shelters will be open for those whose homes are unlivable due to hurricane damage.

Even as authorities give the green light for residents to return home, people should take measures to keep themselves and their family safe.

  • Wear protective shoes, long pants, long sleeve shirts and gloves to protect you from sharp edges and other hazards.
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines, reporting them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
  • Before entering, check the outside of your home for damage, such as cracks in the foundation or broken utilities that make it too dangerous to enter.
  • Enter your home with caution. Look for sagging in the ceiling that may indicate water trapped there. Check for loose flooring.
  • Smell for gas. If you detect a natural gas or propane odor or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department or utility company.
  • Avoid using sinks, showers and toilets if you suspect sewage lines are damaged.
  • Beware of snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by floodwater.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud, including canned goods, capped bottles and sealed containers. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Take pictures of the damage to the house and its contents for insurance claims.

Unfortunately, hurricane season is in full swing, so preparing for the next storm should be on everyone's to-do list. Tropical Storm Hanna will likely strengthen to a hurricane later this week, impacting the southeastern coast. The Red Cross already has resources in place to provide food, shelter and emotional support to those who may need it.

Residents in that area should continue to monitor Hanna and listen to the advice of local authorities; they should also take this opportunity to ensure they and their family are ready.

The Red Cross offers three easy steps to prepare:

1) Get a kit: Include a first aid kit and essential medications; canned food and can opener; at least three gallons of water per person; battery-operated radio; flashlight; extra batteries.

2) Make a plan: Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places-a friend's home in another town, a motel or a shelter. Keep handy the telephone numbers of these places as well as a road map of your locality.

3) Be informed: Know what hurricane WATCH and WARNING mean.
WATCH: Hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the WATCH, usually within 36 hours.
WARNING: Hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the WARNING, usually within 24 hours.

For more information, visit the hurricane preparedness section of www.redcross.org.

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, DC20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

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