As Tropical Storm Bonnie makes its way towards the Gulf Coast and the coast of Florida, the American Red Cross is making preparations for a full response. Forecasters predict the storm will bring strong winds, heavy rain, and coastal flooding to much of southern Florida, along with the possibility of tornadoes.
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Over the weekend, the storm is expected to move across the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for southern Louisiana, including New Orleans. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions, heavy rain and winds from 39 to 73 mph, are expected somewhere within the warning area..
More than 150 Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) in addition to trained disaster workers and relief supplies are ready to move from Red Cross chapters and warehouses to support chapters in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. An additional 85 ERVs are already in the area, permanently housed in chapters from Texas to Florida. These chapters are on alert and working with state and local governments to open shelters as needed.
“We stand ready to respond and support coastal residents in the path of Tropical Storm Bonnie,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “The most important thing people can do is listen to local emergency officials – safety is top priority.”
The Red Cross offers the following steps people can take to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Under a tropical storm watch:
- Bring items inside that can be picked up by the wind.
- Turn refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.
- Turn off any propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
- Fill vehicle’s gas tank.
- Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If hurricane shutters are not available, close and board up windows and doors with plywood.
- Listen to local authorities and evacuate if advised to do so. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
After the storm:
- Return home only when officials say it is safe.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company.
- Stay out of any building that has water around it.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until it’s determined there is no contamination.
- Keep animals under direct control.
Full details about the steps you can take to stay safe are available on the Red Cross web site.
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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.