WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Red Cross had more than 55 shelters open with as many as 1,180 overnight residents Saturday night from California to the east coast as people sought relief from the soaring temperatures, wildfires in the west and this week’s massive flooding in Florida.
“The Red Cross is helping people who have no power during this dangerous heat wave while continuing to feed and shelter people impacted by the wildfires out west and flooding in Florida,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “We urge people to stay safe and follow the direction of local officials during these emergencies.”
POWER OUTAGE Millions are still without power after Friday’s strong storms and officials say it could be several days until electricity is restored in some areas. The Red Cross is operating shelters and supporting numerous cooling centers in West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, as well as in and around Washington, D.C. More than 900 people spent Saturday night in Red Cross and community shelters due to the power outages.
If someone needs to find a Red Cross shelter they can go to www.redcross.org or access the free Red Cross phone app. Both are refreshed with updated information every 30 minutes. People can also watch local media reports to find out where shelters are located.
SAFETY TIPS If a community is without power, people should check on those who are alone or more likely to be affected by the heat. They should also make sure animals have plenty of water and a shady place to rest. Many people are resorting to generator power. They should connect the equipment they want powered directly to the generator outlets, and never connect a generator to the home’s electrical system.
- While the power is out, people should keep their refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. If the refrigerator remains closed, it can keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer can hold its temperature for about two days if the door remains closed.
- People should turn appliances and electrical equipment off and unplug them, leaving one light on to know when the power is restored.
- Those affected should travel only if necessary. Traffic lights are out and roads will be congested.
As wildfires continue to scorch several states out west, more than 200 people spent Saturday night in 12 Red Cross shelters in Colorado, Utah and Montana. Hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers are providing people with a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support. Red Cross workers are focused on providing emotional support and mental health services to families as they wait to learn about damage to their homes.
Almost 75 people in Florida are staying in Red Cross shelters as communities clean up after the massive flooding from Debby. Several hundred disaster workers and a fleet of emergency response vehicles are providing safe shelter, warm meals and distributing relief supplies like flashlights, work gloves, rakes, shovels and tarps.
HOW TO HELP If someone would like to help people affected by these disasters, they can make a donation today to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.