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American Red Cross Sends Disaster Responders to Help Flooded West Africa
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September 18, 2009
Torrential downpours since July have drenched communities in Senegal and left thousands homeless.
Torrential downpours since July have drenched communities in Senegal and left thousands homeless.
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Flooding has spread beyond Senegal to 15 other countries in west and central Africa.
Flooding has spread beyond Senegal to 15 other countries in west and central Africa.
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Five disaster relief specialists from the American Red Cross are in Senegal and Burkina Faso to respond to severe flooding which has affected more than 300,000 people in the two countries. 

Annual flooding is not unusual in West Africa, but an excessive rainy season with days of torrential downpours is causing mud houses to break down, flooding cities and destroying crops.

Brigitte Gaillis, an American Red Cross responder from Atlanta, Georgia is the head of flood disaster response operations for Senegal and Burkina Faso for the global Red Cross network. As reports come in from teams sent to assess damage and needs in heavily damaged areas, she sees that the lack of food may be a longer term problem for these communities.

“The issue is critical in some areas because the crops have been destroyed.  They’ve lost them for their own consumption and for income generation,” Gaillis said in an interview.

When assessments are completed in the upcoming days, Brigitte and her colleagues from the Red Cross will use the information to determine how the Red Cross will help these families meet their immediate needs.

In addition to Brigitte, international disaster response specialists from Santa Monica, California, Boston, Seattle and Washington, DC have also been deployed to Senegal to support the relief efforts. The first task of these teams will be to assess the extent of the damage and the priority needs as well as distributing relief supplies.

In both Burkina Faso and Senegal, the Red Cross is distributing tarpulins, blankets, jerry cans for collecting water, sleeping mats, water purification tablets, soap and insecticide-treated mosquito nets to prevent malaria. These items help meet the immediate needs of people affected by the floods.

The Red Cross has launched two emergency appeals for a total of $4.6 million to support the Red Cross of Burkina Faso and Senegal in assisting flood victims in the two countries. The appeals include a response plan and funds to assist 65,000 people for six months – 40,000 in Burkina Faso and 25,000 in Senegal. In the past few weeks, the floods have hit 16 countries in West and Central Africa, affecting over 400,000 people.

For more information or to setup interviews, please contact Christy Feig, Director of International Communications for the American Red Cross (feigc@usa.redcross.org or 703-203-9920).

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.



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