Biloxi, MS, September 1, 2008 -As Hurricane Gustav approaches arrives, the Red Cross’s number one priority is to provide food, safe shelter, and emotional support. An American Red Cross national spokesperson has said that this is the largest disaster relief operation since Hurricane Katrina. 200 mobile feeding units are positioned for the response throughout Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. 100,000 cots and 200,000 blankets have been shipped into the area.
The Red Cross has opened eleven shelters in Harrison, Hancock and Pearl River Counties. The executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter, Bill Brent, said that he anticipates housing between 5,000 and 7,000 people in these shelters on Sunday and Monday nights.
The American Red Cross will not include hotel stays as a service in the response to this disaster. In previous disasters, the Red Cross provided hotel stays because many shelters were overwhelmed with people. Over the past two years, it has improved its systems and increased its capacity to shelter people. Congregate shelters allow the Red Cross to help as many people as possible with the money and resources that it has available. Shelters are the most efficient way to house people.
The American Red Cross focus in the early days after the storm will not be financial assistance. The organization will be deliberate and consistent in starting the financial assistance, and the decisions about the provision of that service will be made in the context of the scope and scale of FEMA’s assistance activities.
Bill Brent, 338-896-4511