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American Red Cross Launches Largest Mobilization Effort in History for Hurricane Katrina


EDITORIAL NOTE: The American Red Cross Disaster Operations Center is available 24 hours a day at 202-303-5551 for media requests. The Red Cross has available spokespeople all along the Gulf Coast.

WASHINGTON, Monday, August 29, 2005 — The American Red Cross is launching the largest mobilization of resources in its history for a single natural disaster. Hurricane Katrina, a deadly Category 4 storm, is barreling ashore this morning along the Gulf Coast and has the potential to leave widespread devastation in its wake.

“Hurricane Katrina is wreaking havoc for southeast Florida and the Gulf coast states,” said Joe Becker, Senior Vice President of Preparedness and Response for the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross will meet the challenge by doing what we do best—coming together to respond with tireless compassion to take care of our neighbors.”

The Red Cross is mobilizing on all fronts to bring relief to storm victims. More than two hundred Red Cross shelters are housing thousands of residents who fled Katrina’s wrath. All available resources from across the country, including thousands of staff and volunteers are being moved to safe areas, so additional relief efforts can begin immediately after the storm passes. More than 200 emergency response vehicles (ERVs) and countless other Red Cross resources are en route or on the scene to provide hot meals, snacks, bottled water and distribute other much-needed relief supplies. In coordination with the Southern Baptists, preparations have been made to provide more than 500,000 hot meals to storm-weary residents each day.

“We are prepared at every level for what will likely be a catastrophic disaster,” said Lois Grady-Wesbecher, Manager of the Disaster Operations Center at American Red Cross national headquarters. “When Mother Nature is at her worst, the American Red Cross is at its best.”

Hurricane Katrina strengthened into one of the fiercest storms ever seen in the U.S. Not only has Katrina intensified, but it has also grown substantially in size—it is now about 460 miles wide—the distance from New Orleans to Atlanta. Destruction from this storm will not be limited to coastal areas. After making landfall Hurricane Katrina will progress inland Monday leaving behind a trail of flooding rains and damaging winds, spreading across the country and eventually into the Northeast. The Red Cross will continue to provide a safe haven and disaster assistance to victims along its path.

American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of this and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting


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