Thursday, September 24, 2009

Red Cross Lending a Hand to Flood Victims Unable to Go Home

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross sheltered more than 420 people in Georgia and Tennessee overnight, a signal that even though flood waters are slowly receding, many are still unable to return to their homes.

The Red Cross has more than 200 volunteers and staff and 18 Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) in the area with more on standby. Clean up and comfort kits are being distributed and almost 2,000 meals have been served to those affected by the flooding. Officials say early estimates show as many as 3,000 homes may be affected with damages estimated at $250 million.

Red Cross is partnering with Southern Baptist Convention, which has one mobile kitchen in operation and another on alert if needed. Other partners include Samaritan's Purse, Georgia Association of Food Banks, Church of Latter Day Saints, Church World Service, and NECHAMA.

"Our focus is on making people as comfortable as possible, feeding them and taking care of their immediate needs," said Joe Becker, Red Cross Disaster Services senior vice president. "We have the workers, equipment and supplies here on the ground to do that with more on standby if needed."

As the waters recede, the Red Cross issues these steps people should take to remain safe as they return to their neighborhoods:

-- Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
-- Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged
gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
-- Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances
carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
-- Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have
come into your home with the floodwater.
-- If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave
immediately and call the fire department.
-- If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or
standing water.
-- Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
-- Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated
fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local
authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
-- During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and
rubber boots.
-- Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come
in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles,
plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
-- Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush
teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
-- Contact your local or state public health department for specific
recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a
disaster as water may be contaminated.

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

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