Release: American Red Cross Moves People and Supplies to Gulf Coast Region 08/29/2008

AMERICAN RED CROSS MOVES PEOPLE AND SUPPLIES TO GULF COAST REGION

American red cross preparing to help residents in path of Gustav

WASHINGTON, August 28, 2008 – The American Red Cross is getting ready for Tropical Storm Gustav and urges everyone living in the projected path of the storm to get ready too.

As Gustav stands poised to enter the Gulf of Mexico as a hurricane this weekend, Red Cross is preparing to assist residents in the storm’s path with evacuation shelters, feeding, and other needed services.

“We’ll be there, prepared to help,” said Joseph Becker, Senior Vice President of Disaster Services for the Red Cross, “This storm is unpredictable and could cover a wide geography. The American Red Cross is as ready as we can be. We urge everyone to take this storm seriously.”

Red Cross is moving hundreds of mobile feeding trucks into Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The organization is also moving thousands of cots and blankets, tens of thousands of comfort kits and ready to eat meals into the coastal states. Red Cross workers will be moving into the area today and Friday. Operational headquarters are setting up in Dallas, TX, Baton Rouge, LA, Hattiesburg, MS and Montgomery, AL. Our first priorities before and after landfall will be to ensure people have safe shelter, food, comfort items and emotional support.

If a hurricane watch is issued for your area, it means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours. If a hurricane warning is issued, it means hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.

“Get prepared now,” Becker said, “listen to local officials and evacuate if you’re told to do so.”

Red Cross reports residents should listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for up-to-date storm information. Pack a bag and include medications and dentures, a flashlight and batteries, radio, first aid kit, bottled water, clothing and bedding.

If you have time, bring things indoors that could damage your home. Turn off electricity and water. Leave natural gas turned on; turn off propane gas service. Cover your windows. Gather essential supplies and important papers. Fill your car’s gas tank.

As you evacuate, if you have one call to make before you leave home, call a loved one and tell them you are safe. Ask them to register you on the Red Cross Safe and Well web site which can be accessed at www.redcross.org. If there’s no internet access, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register yourself and your family. If family members know your telephone number or complete home address, they can search the site for messages posted by those who register.

Gustav is making his appearance almost three years to the day the area was hit by another storm – Katrina. Becker reported his organization learned a lot from Katrina and has better systems in place, more trained workers, and more partnerships to strengthen response. Red Cross has tripled its warehouse space to store relief items closer to disaster-prone locations, and increased the amount of relief items on hand to accommodate large numbers of shelter residents. There are now more Red Cross mobile kitchens and feeding vehicles, more trained volunteers, and a satellite communication system in place in the event of damage to the local networks.

You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling, and other emergency assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Donors can support the Disaster Relief by making a gift online at www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish).

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