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Red Cross Assists El Paso, Texas, Residents as Heavy Rains Flood Desert City.
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Amanda Mark
August 8, 2006

The American Red Cross is assisting residents from the El Paso, Texas, area after heavy rains deluged and flooded the desert city. More than 15 inches of rain – nearly twice the annual average – have fallen in the past 10 days.

Over the past week, the local Red Cross chapters opened more than 10 shelters in the El Paso area for households unable to reside in their homes. As residents return to their homes, the Red Cross provides comfort and clean-up kits to assist in the post-flooding clean-up. The Red Cross also will operate a service center to assist the more than 1,500 homeowners affected by the heavy rains.

The rains appear to have abated, but the Red Cross urges caution as people begin to return to their flooded homes. Every year, floods wreak havoc across the United States – causing billions of dollars of damage and, on average, about 100 deaths annually.

“While the immediate danger appears to have passed, flooded homes are often filled with more than just water,” said Keith Robertory, preparedness expert for the American Red Cross. “Flooded homes may have damaged electrical outlets, appliances and wiring, which may cause injury when the electricity comes back on. Floodwaters can damage materials, leaving mud, silt and unknown contaminants behind, and promote the growth of mold and mildew.”

As El Paso residents return to their homes and begin to cope with the flooding, Robertory encourages them to play it safe and follow the steps listed below.

What to Do After a Flood or Flash Flood

Your home and its contents may look beyond hope, and while there are some things that shouldn’t be kept once water-damaged, many of your belongings can be restored. Do things right, and your flooded home can be cleaned up, dried out, rebuilt and reoccupied sooner than you think.

  • Play it safe. The dangers are not over when the water goes down. Your home's foundation may have been weakened, the electrical system may have shorted out and floodwaters may have left behind contamination that could make you sick. When in doubt, throw it out. Don't risk injury or infection from items that have been touched by floodwaters and cannot be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Ask for help. Many people can do a lot of the clean up and repairs. But if you have technical questions or do not feel comfortable doing something, get professional help. If there is a federal disaster declaration, a telephone "hotline" will often be publicized to provide information about public, private, and voluntary agency programs to help you recover from the flood.
  • Floodproof. It is possible that your home could flood again someday. You can save a lot of money by floodproofing as you repair and rebuild. Also, you should prepare for the next flood by buying flood insurance, if available, and writing a flood response plan.

Disaster can strike anytime, anywhere and with little or no warning. For information about preparing your home and family for potential disasters and life's emergencies, visit the “Get Prepared” Section of RedCross.org.

El Paso residents looking for Red Cross assistance should contact their local chapter.

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 recent disasters and thousands of other disasters across the country each year 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 those in need. Call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) 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 www.redcross.org. 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.

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