Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions: Spring Storms and Tornadoes

How can I donate food and/or clothing, toys, etc. to victims of the disaster?
On larger relief operations we serve thousands of meals to victims of disaster and first responders every day. In order to ensure we meet health codes and are as efficient as possible, we are not able to accept donations of food from individuals. If you would like to donate food items, we recommend contacting your local food bank for information. If you’re interested in starting a food drive, it’s best to contact the food bank before you start collecting, so that you’re collecting exactly what is needed so that your donation can make the biggest impact in your community.

Donations like clothing and shoes require a lot of resources to sort, clean and distribute. Since our focus is on meeting the immediate needs of disaster victims, we work with agencies in the community, such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries who are set up to process these types of donations. You can also call 211 for information on where you can take material items you have collected.

Why doesn’t the Red Cross accept donations of clothing and other small items?
Our primary focus after a disaster is getting help to large numbers of people in a short amount of time. We try to focus our workers on that goal and often don’t have the resources that it takes to sort, process, store and transport small donations.

In addition, we want to be consistent in the help we give to disaster victims and cash donations allow us to purchase large quantities of goods that help us do that. Financial donations also help us meet any specific needs a disaster client might have.

Will the Red Cross replace groceries or food lost because of a power outage?
Red Cross feeding services at shelters and through mobile feeding efforts are meant to ensure that no one goes hungry after a disaster. Power outages are often widespread and sometimes affect hundreds of thousands of people. It would be nearly impossible—both logistically and financially—for the Red Cross to replace groceries for that many people.

How can the American people help during this difficult time?
People can help by making a donation to help the thousands of people affected by this disaster. They can donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Does my donation really help? What will it be used for?
The donations we receive for Red Cross Disaster Relief are put to good use. 91 cents of every dollar is used to support disaster victims. Any donation, large or small, will help. For example, $3 can provide a comfort kit containing personal hygiene items for someone in a disaster. $6 can cover the cost of a blanket, $10 the cost of a hot meal. A $50 donation can cover the cost of food and shelter for a day, including three meals, blankets, comfort kits and the Red Cross expense of mobilizing them to the disaster area. For $150, someone’s donation can cover the cost of providing food and shelter to a family of four for a day they spend in a shelter.

What is the Red Cross doing to help people affected by these deadly Spring storms?
Red Cross workers are deploying from all over the country, and we are helping people today – and we will be helping them in the weeks ahead as they try to get back on their feet.

Our first priority is to provide food and shelter to the thousands of people whose lives were turned upside down by these storms. We are focused on providing safe shelter, feeding victims and emergency workers, providing mental health and emotional support services, providing basic first aid and health services, and distributing clean-up supplies and comfort items.

This is a severe and widespread disaster affecting a number of states, and many people are depending on the Red Cross and our government partners for assistance. Some areas are taking time to get to because of the destruction and impassible roads.

How does the Red Cross pay for the services it provides?
We rely on the donations of the American people to support our work. Financial contributions to American Red Cross Disaster Relief allow us to serve victims of more than 70,000 disasters a year. Every day, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 200 disasters ranging from house fires to tornadoes and massive hurricanes – each one devastating to the people involved.

I have friends and family in the affected area. Is there any way to find out if they are okay?
The Red Cross Safe and Well secure Web site is a way to find out how loved ones are in a disaster. The people in the affected area can let their loved ones know they are safe by registering as “safe and well” with a telephone number or address. Friends and family outside the disaster area can then search the site for messages from their loved ones.
  • To register, people should visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the “List Yourself or Search Registrants” link under “How to Get Help”.
  • People in the affected areas can list themselves as “safe and well” on the site by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address.
  • Disaster victims can also update their Facebook and Twitter status through the Safe and Well Web site.
  • 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.
  • From any phone call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and one of our operators can help you register.

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