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Tornadoes Trigger American Red Cross Help to Southeast Virginia


Red Cross Moves into Southeast Virginia with food, supplies and comfort for victims
WASHINGTON, April 2008 — As the full scope of the tornado damage becomes evident, American Red Cross feeding vehicles, supplies and volunteers are heading into the storm stricken area. Hundreds of homes and businesses sustained major damage and last night the American Red Cross responded by providing supplies to the shelter setup by the City of Suffolk. Additional assistance, including mental health workers and more volunteers are moving into place to ensure that local residents have all of the help they need. The American Red Cross is also partnering with the local public health department to make sure enough nurses are available to those affected by the storms.

Also today, disaster assessment crews are rolling through neighborhoods determining the extent of the damage. The Red Cross shares this information with local, state and federal officials so that the community understands the full scope of the damage. This disaster assessment also helps the Red Cross plan for the amount of volunteers and supplies needed for the area.

“As the Red Cross jump starts its response, our feeding, mental health and work with public health are the first steps in placing the community on the road to recovery,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president, disaster services. “It’s heartbreaking to see the homes destroyed by this event, but the American Red Cross will be here to provide shelter, food and emotional support to victims of this tragedy.”

If you have been affected by the disaster, then please register yourself on the Safe and Well Website. From a list of standard messages, you can select those that you want to communicate to your family members, letting them know of your well-being.

After the storms:

Although tornadoes generally occur during spring and summer and more frequently in the Plain states, they can happen anytime, anywhere. Regardless of the location or time of year, if conditions are right, a tornado can develop. Tornadoes have been reported in every state. They can strike at any time of the day or night but are most likely to occur between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

The American Red Cross recommends people take the following actions to stay safer after a tornado:

* Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
* When it is safe to return home, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
* Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
* Avoid damaged areas as your presence might hamper rescue and other emergency operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of tornadoes.
* Stay out of damaged buildings.
* Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. DO NOT USE CANDLES.
* If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly. Turn off the gas using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
* Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.
* Check for injuries. If you are trained, provide first aid to persons in need until emergency responders arrive.
* Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
* Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations. They need to be kept clear for emergency calls to get through.
* Watch your animals closely. Keep all your animals under your direct control. Your pets may be able to escape from your home or through a broken fence. Pets may become disoriented, particularly because tornadoes and the heavy rains that accompany them will usually affect scent markers that normally allow animals to find their homes.

All 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 thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Southeastern Virginia Tornadoes, 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 victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS 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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