(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
The American Red Cross is helping thousands of people after Wednesday’s deadly tornadoes destroyed neighborhoods throughout the southern region of the country.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with those who lost loved ones or have suffered through these deadly storms,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “Red Cross disaster teams are working around the clock to help the thousands of people whose lives are turned upside down. More Red Cross assistance is on the way.”
“Our top priority right now is to provide food and shelter to the thousands of people throughout the South and Midwest affected by these storms,” Shimanski said, adding that the Red Cross is also distributing relief supplies and providing emotional support and basic health services to disaster survivors.
Hardest hit was Alabama, where Governor Robert Bentley has activated National Guard troops to help in the devastated areas. The Red Cross is sending disaster workers, materials, blood products and equipment into the state. Nearly 40 emergency response vehicles are on the way, along with 25,000 ready-to-eat meals. Red Cross Blood Services is moving hundreds of blood products into the area, and Red Cross nurses and mental health workers are being deployed to help people cope with the aftermath of this disaster.
More than 1,600 people sought refuge in 65 Red Cross shelters Wednesday night as the storms forced them from their homes. Red Cross shelters are open in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas.
“Tornadoes and floods have devastated communities and uprooted families across many states, and the Red Cross is working hand-in-hand with our federal and community partners to get assistance to people in need and help them recover,” Shimanski said.
More than half of the country has been affected by this continuous band of damaging weather, disrupting people’s lives from North Dakota to the East Coast. In the last several weeks, Red Cross disaster workers have provided thousands of overnight stays in shelters, distributed thousands of clean-up and comfort kits and served hundreds of thousands of meals and snacks.
The Red Cross is able to respond quickly when emergencies happen with the help of corporations who are members of the organization’s Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). ADGP members pledge donations on an ongoing basis to allow the Red Cross to pre-position supplies and be ready to take immediate action when disasters occur.
ADGP members include Walmart, UPS, UnitedHealthcare, The TJX Companies, Inc., Target, State Street Foundation, State Farm, Southwest Airlines, Ryder Charitable Foundation, Northrup Grumman, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, Morgan Stanley, Merck, Lowe’s Companies, Inc.; Kraft Foods; Kimberly-Clark Corporation, John Deere Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, GE Foundation, FedEx Corporation, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Darden Restaurants, Inc, ConAgra Foods, Cisco Foundation, Aon, Altria and 3M.
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster, both here in the United States and around the world. Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.