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American Red Cross Expands Relief Effort as More Tornadoes Batter Midwest
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May 25, 2011

Stephen Molintor talks to  Red Cross volunteer nurse Patricia Carpenter in Joplin, Mo, on May 24, 2019. (Photo Credit: Bob Carey, American Red Cross)

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After another round of severe weather in the Midwest, the American Red Cross has expanded relief operations into Oklahoma, and is continuing to ramp up services in Joplin, Missouri.

As tornado warnings were broadcast Tuesday evening, the number of people staying in the Red Cross shelter at Missouri Southern State University jumped to 348 people, triple the number the night before.

“This is a really tough time for everyone in this community,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Red Cross Disaster Services, who is in Joplin. “It’s going to be a long road for this town and for the many other towns that have been hit by disasters this spring. The important thing to remember is that the Red Cross will be there, and that we will get through this together.”

“This has been a rough disaster season with so many deadly tornadoes and disasters striking one after another for several weeks, and we’re grateful for contributions from donors which support the Red Cross response,” Shimanski added.

In addition to operating a shelter in Joplin—where people have a safe place to stay, food, water and much needed emotional support—the Red Cross is traveling through neighborhoods today to distribute cleanup supplies and provide water and hot meals, which are being prepared by Missouri Southern State University. Red Cross volunteers continue to arrive today to help with feeding efforts and damage assessment. Emergency aid stations are also being set up in town.

With reports from local officials indicating a large number of people are still missing in Joplin, the Red Cross encourages everyone affected by the disaster to register on the Safe and Well website by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). From a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for Friends and Family” link. Friends and family outside the disaster area can use the site to search for messages from their loved ones by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Safe and Well also enables disaster survivors to update their Facebook and Twitter status through the website.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross opened a shelter in Canton, Oklahoma, on Tuesday night after tornadoes tore through the state. A Red Cross emergency communications vehicle was deployed to Oklahoma early Wednesday morning to help with connectivity, and Red Cross teams are also beginning preliminary damage assessments in some neighborhoods.

Since March 31, the Red Cross has initiated 29 relief operations in 22 states. In addition to the tornado response in the Midwest, the Red Cross is continuing to help residents in the South, where tornadoes and Mississippi River flooding have devastated many communities. All totaled, nearly 1,200 people across nine states stayed in a Red Cross shelter last night because of these severe weather events.

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and wildfires, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Donate online or call 1-888-4-HELP-BAY (1-888-443-5722). people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter at 85 Second Street, 8th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105.

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