WASHINGTON – As rising flood waters cover the Southeast, hundreds have looked to the American Red Cross for shelter as officials estimate the number of people needing help could rise dramatically.
Overnight more than 220 people took refuge in Red Cross shelters in Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. Georgia has been hit the hardest, particularly around the city of Atlanta where as much as a foot of rain fell Monday. According to news reports, the flooding has claimed at least eight lives. Governor Sonny Purdue has declared a state of emergency in 17 counties and authorities are urging people to stay home if possible.
Red Cross is providing a safe place to stay, food to eat, and a shoulder to lean on for those affected by the flooding which has prompted evacuations, washed out bridges, caused landslides, and closed highways across the area.
“These flood waters can come up very rapidly. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice,” said Joe Becker, Senior Vice President Red Cross Disaster Services, “We have shelters open which offer a safe haven for those who have been forced out of their homes.”
Preliminary estimates from emergency management officials indicate that as many as 1,000 people could potentially need sheltering.
At this time, the Greater Carolinas Chapter, based in Charlotte, has not been asked to deploy volunteers or equipment.
Red Cross offers the following steps people should take to be ready and stay safe:
• Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
• 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 http://www.redcross.org.
About the American Red Cross
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 http://www.redcross.org.