Thursday, June 2, 2011

Red Cross Helping After Tornadoes Tear Through Massachusetts

Relief efforts continue across the country as floods, tornadoes devastate communities

The American Red Cross is responding in Massachusetts where tornadoes cut a destructive swath through the western part of the state yesterday. At least 480 people spent Wednesday night in Red Cross shelters in Massachusetts.

About 19 communities reported tornado damage with the heaviest damage around Springfield, the third largest city in the state. Red Cross workers responded immediately, assisting area residents as well as the hundreds of emergency responders on the scene. Disaster teams opened shelters throughout the area and are providing food, drinks and emotional support. Damage assessment will begin today. Additional workers are being deployed to the region from Red Cross chapters in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“This has been an extraordinary response effort that we expect will continue for days to come,” said Paige Thayer, deputy director of chapter support for the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter in Massachusetts. “We have a terrific team of volunteers who will continue to provide relief services to those in need.”

The Red Cross response in Massachusetts comes on the heels of a multitude of large disaster relief operations this spring. Overnight, at least four states reported more than 100 people in Red Cross shelters.

Red Cross workers are helping people in the northwestern region of the country, where rising rivers are forcing people from their homes. More than 250 people spent Wednesday night in Red Cross shelters in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

In North Dakota, as many as 60 Red Cross workers from all around the country have arrived to operate shelters, provide food and offer emotional support to the many people whose lives have been disrupted. Additional staff and supplies are being deployed to the area. “This is the beauty of the American Red Cross,” said West Dakota Chapter Executive Director Janel Schmitz. “In these situations, the Red Cross deploys volunteers from across the country to support the response effort. Someday, our volunteers will return the favor to them.”

Red Cross teams are distributing food throughout affected neighborhoods in Montana, and assessing damage to homes. Particularly hard hit is the Crow Nation in southeastern Montana where some residents are stranded in their homes. The Red Cross is delivering food and water to the area every day.

In Joplin, MO, Tuscaloosa, AL and Minneapolis, MN, more than 175 people stayed in Red Cross shelters Wednesday night. Devastating tornadoes tore through the states in the past several weeks. As part of these tornado responses, Red Cross workers are delivering meals and snacks as well as comfort and clean-up items, and operating emergency aid stations to provide health and mental health services.

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to get help to people affected by disasters. Please consider making a donation today to help to those in need. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

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