LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Five teams comprised of ten American Red Cross Disaster volunteers will leave Arkansas today en route to Tampa, Florida to join hundreds of Red Cross workers already in communities across the state in response to Tropical Storm Debby.
"Our Disaster Teams will drive emergency trucks to stage in Tampa where they will receive assignments to areas in need of support," stated American Red Cross in Arkansas Communication Information Officer Brigette Williams. "Crews are departing from Blytheville, El Dorado, Hot Springs, Little Rock and Pine Bluff." Crews in Russellville and Tontitown remain on alert for departure.
Red Cross is operating shelters and serving meals to people affected by flooding in Florida as well as the expanding wildfires in Colorado and Utah. Last night more than 30,000 residents quickly evacuated from Waldo Canyon late last night as winds changed directions moving fires towards residential areas.
Disaster relief continues for residents affected by recent flooding in Minnesota. Two Arkansans continue work with mental health and logistics.
"Arkansans know from our experience with floods last year that all isn't well because the water recedes," stated Williams. "It's not only the physical work, but the emotional toll a disaster takes on individuals. Red Cross workers understand the various needs and emotions the Floridians will be going through. Our teams will provide the care and support to get them back on the road to recovery."
The departing volunteers bring a variety of skills and disaster experience most recently from floods on the East Coast from Hurricane Irene last August, as well as the storms and floods that ravaged Arkansas last spring.
Arkansans continue to be encouraged to check on loved ones in affected areas in Florida reminding them to be cautious as flood waters recede, "In Arkansas more people were killed by flood waters than by tornadoes," Stated Williams.
HOW TO FIND RED CROSS SHELTERS People who have been forced to evacuate can find out where Red Cross shelters are open by going to www.redcross.org or accessing the free Red Cross phone app. Both are refreshed with updated information every 30 minutes. Residents should also monitor local media-radio, newspaper and television-to find out where local shelters are located.
REGISTER ON SAFE AND WELL The Red Cross Safe and Well website is also available. People affected by the fires and flooding can access the site and let loved ones know where they are. There are several ways to register on Safe and Well, or search for a loved one. From a computer, visit redcross.org; from a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to be connected with one's local Red Cross chapter.
SAFETY TIPS Residents, as well as visitors in the areas of Florida affected by the storm are urged to stay away from floodwaters. If water covered roads are encountered, do not drive through the water, but turn around and go in another direction. The Red Cross has more steps people should follow to stay safe while flooding and tornadoes are possible throughout the region.
Last night's evacuation of more than 30,000 from Colorado's Waldo Canyon is another reminder for people in the area of the wildfires to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. Additional tips include the following:
• Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
• Keep your car gas tank filled.
• Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
• Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
• Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative's home outside the threatened area.
More information can be found in the Red Cross Wildfire Safety Checklist.
HOW PEOPLE CAN HELP Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross in Arkansas, P.O. Box 191051, Little Rock, AR 72219 or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
(Source: American Red Cross)