Release: Red Cross Help for those Returning Home After the Storm


WEDNESDAY, September 3, 2008 – With close to 800,000 people without power and many with wind and water damage, Hurricane Gustav continues to make life hard for the people of the Gulf Coast. After the storm, the American Red Cross is offering assistance and information to keep people safe as clean-up efforts begin.

The Red Cross will provide emergency assistance in the following ways:

  1. Sheltering for people who have lost power or otherwise find their homes unlivable
  2. Mobile feeding trucks and kitchens in the hardest hit areas for people who need water and a meal while cleaning up or because they have lost power
  3. Emergency financial assistance based on significant structural damage to someone’s home. Assessment teams will start visits to the affected areas, surveying the damage. That damage assessment will become the basis for our emergency financial assistance.
  4. Clean-up kits including: mop, broom, cleaning supplies, work gloves and similar items.
  5. Emotional counseling and support. We recognize this has been a very difficult time for the people of the Gulf Coast.

Red Cross will be cautious not to duplicate any services the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be providing, but will help people register for FEMA assistance.

“When people come back home, the Red Cross will be there too,” said Gail J. McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross. “If shelters are needed, we will provide them. Our mobile kitchens will feed those who have lost the food they had on hand. We will hand out clean-up kits. And, if someone needs to talk to someone, we will have counselors available.”

All American Red Cross assistance is provided free, made possible by donations from the American people.

Those who have evacuated are advised to return home only after authorities advise that is safe to do so. Follow these suggestions to stay safe when you return:

  • Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Use telephone only for emergency calls. Keep phone lines open.
  • Wear protective shoes, long pants, long sleeve shirts and gloves to protect you from sharp edges and other hazards.
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines, reporting them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
  • Before entering, check the outside of your home for damage such as cracks in the foundation or broken utilities that make it too dangerous to enter.
  • Enter your home with caution. Look for sagging in the ceiling that may indicate water trapped there. Check for loose flooring.
  • Smell for gas. If you detect a natural gas or propane odor or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department or utility company.
  • Avoid using sinks, showers and toilets if you suspect sewage lines are damaged.
  • Beware of snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by floodwater.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud, including canned goods, capped bottles and sealed containers. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Take pictures of the damage to the house and its contents for insurance claims.

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