The American Red Cross is continuing to aid those affected by flooding in the southeast, where up to 22 inches of rain have inundated the area.
More than 400 people in Georgia and Tennessee took refuge in Red Cross shelters overnight, where they found a safe place to stay, a warm meal, clean, dry clothing, and a place to get the latest information on their situation.
"Many of the people we are seeing left their homes very quickly, taking very little with them," said Joe Becker, Red Cross Disaster Services senior vice president, "We are trying to pinpoint what they need and working to help fulfill those needs."
Georgia has taken the hardest hit and officials there estimate the floods have left behind $250 million in damages. According to news reports, the death toll is now at nine dead. Governor Sonny Purdue has asked the federal government to declare a state of emergency, and many roads and bridges remain closed.
The flooding has also touched the Red Cross. Its blood center in Douglasville, GA has been without water for the past few days but Southern Blood Services staff has continued working with the addition of portable restrooms and hand sanitizers. "Our staff has done an outstanding job of maintaining operations here while in some instances dealing with this tragedy on a personal level," said Tracye Bryant, communications manager, "We're committed to meeting the needs of patients here in the Southern Division." Southern Blood Services furnishes blood and blood products to 140 hospitals in Georgia, northeastern Florida, and southeastern South Carolina.
Flood warnings will continue through this afternoon around the falling Chattahoochee River, which is forecast to drop below flood stage by Friday morning. Red Cross offers the following steps people should take to stay safe:
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
For more information on what to do if flood waters threaten, visit Red Cross preparedness information on www.redcross.org. If you would like information on giving blood, call 1-800-GIVE LIFE or visit www.givelife.org.
Help people affected by disasters like the current floods by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for disasters and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters. 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 redcross.org.
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.