WASHINGTON, May 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just hours after a series of devastating tornadoes swept through theMidwest last night, the American Red Cross opened shelters in Missouri and Minnesota to help those whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
"Our thoughts and sympathies are with those who lost loved ones or have suffered through these deadly storms," said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. "The Red Cross already has people on the ground to help in these communities, and we have more on the way today."
The American Red Cross opened a shelter in hard-hit Joplin, Missouri, shortly after the tornado struck on Sunday. That shelter, located at Missouri Southern State University, had approximately 110 people on Sunday night and can hold up to 1,000 people. The Red Cross is working with local officials in Joplin to arrange transportation to help get people to shelters and if necessary, identify additional shelter locations.
The Red Cross also opened a shelter in Minneapolis, where 200 people spent the night following the tornadoes there.
Currently, hundreds of relief supplies are being moved from Red Cross warehouses to Joplin and other affected areas. These supplies include comfort kits, tarps, coolers, rakes and other cleanup supplies. The Red Cross is also sending in additional staff, concentrating particularly on trained health and mental health workers.
Red Cross emergency response vehicles are already responding in Missouri, helping to transport supplies to the shelter. More vehicles are headed to the area today. In addition, a Red Cross emergency communications vehicle is being sent in due to damage sustained on area infrastructure.
The Red Cross encourages people to register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website to let loved ones know they are safe by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). From a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the "List Yourself as Safe and Well" or "Search for Friends and Family" link.
People in the affected areas can list themselves as "safe and well" on the Safe and Well site. Friends and family outside the disaster area can then search for messages from their loved ones by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Safe and Well also enables disaster survivors to update their Facebook and Twitter status through the website.
As the Red Cross responds in the Midwest, it continues its relief operations across the South in response to April's tornadoes and the continued flooding along the Mississippi River. This spring, more than half of the country has been affected by damaging weather, disrupting people's lives from North Dakota to the East Coast. Since March 31, Red Cross disaster workers have provided thousands of overnight stays in shelters, distributed thousands of cleanup and comfort kits and served more than 1.8 million meals and snacks.
The Red Cross is able to respond quickly when emergencies happen with the help of corporations who are members of the organization's Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). ADGP members pledge donations on an ongoing basis to allow the Red Cross to pre-position supplies and be ready to take immediate action when disasters occur.
Members of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program are 3M, Altria, Aon, Cisco Foundation, ConAgra Foods, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Darden Restaurants, Inc., Dr Pepper Snapple Group, FedEx Corporation, GE Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, John Deere Foundation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kraft Foods, Lowe's Companies, Inc., Merck, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, Northrop Grumman, Ryder Charitable Foundation, Southwest Airlines, State Farm, State Street Foundation, Target, The TJX Companies, Inc., UnitedHealthcare, UPS and Walmart.
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and wildfires, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, 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; people can also text the word "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization not a government agency and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.
SOURCE American Red Cross
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