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Gulf Coast Residents Take Refuge from Ida in Red Cross Shelters
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November 10, 2009

Overnight more than 230 Gulf Coast residents escaped from Tropical Storm Ida in American Red Cross shelters in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.In El Salvador, the storm system caused heavy rain, floods and landslides throughout the country affecting more than 10,400 people.

The Salvadoran Red Cross is distributing humanitarian aid in 56 shelters across the country, providing immediate relief in the form of basic items such as blankets, hygiene items and kitchen kits.  The government there declared a state of emergency.  Red Cross search and rescue teams helped search for approximately 60 people who are still reported missing.

In the United States, the storm is predicted to bring up to six inches of rain and gusty winds today in Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.  Coastal flood warnings remain in effect from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, with additional flood watches inland in areas of Mississippi and Alabama.  By tonight, remnants of the storm will move up to Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

For those in the path of the storm or who plan on finding safety in a shelter, the Red Cross encourages you to bring the following items for each member of their family: prescription and emergency medication, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. Additionally, special items for children and infants, such as diapers, formulas and toys, should be brought, along with other special items for family members who are elderly or disabled.

If you are in an area where flooding is predicted, follow these safety steps:

  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress.
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for the area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  • 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.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

The Red Cross Safe and Well web site is an online tool that those affected by disaster can use to register their status.  If there is no internet access, people can ask a loved one to register for them, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register. If family members know someone’s telephone number or complete home address, they can search the site for messages posted by those who register. 

For more information on what to do to be prepared and stay safe during this storm, visit www.redcross.org. 

Help people affected by disasters like 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.

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