Red Cross Continues Hurricane Recovery Efforts, Stresses Preparedness

Two years after the gulf region was overcome by a rapid series of devastating storms, the American Red Cross is reminding and encouraging everyone to continue to support local Red Cross chapters and other groups that continue to work in these communities and stresses the importance of individual preparation.

During the emergency phase of the response to hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, the Red Cross provided 3.8 million overnight stays in Red Cross shelters, served 68 million meals and snacks and provided emergency assistance to nearly 1.4 million households.

"Our response to Katrina really was an important chapter in our history," commented Mark W. Everson, Red Cross president and CEO. "Since our relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the storm, many of our disaster workers have actively supported the personal recovery efforts of Katrina survivors. In fact, some of our Red Cross colleagues are survivors themselves. Katrina reinforced for this entire organization the importance of our role in our communities across the nation."

The Red Cross says it has gotten ready for the next big event by tripling its warehouse space, increasing stockpiles of food, cots, and blankets, increasing the number of kitchens and feeding trucks, and positioning satellite communications equipment across the nation.

In preparation of National Preparedness Month in September, the organization is encouraging individuals and families to also be prepared by taking three simple steps:

  1. Get a Kit: Build a disaster supplies kit including water, non-perishable food, radio, flashlight, extra batteries for both, a first aid kit, and necessary medications. Store important family documents (wills, passports, insurance policies, deeds, etc.) in a portable, waterproof and fireproof container as part of your kit. Prepare supplies for pets and family members with specific needs.
  2. Make a Plan: Make evacuation and communication plans. Plan ahead for the possibility of becoming separated from your family and friends by choosing an out-of-town contact that each family or household member can call or email should a disaster occur. Plan on using the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site which can be reached through www.redcross.org.
  3. Be Informed: Talk to your family about the types of disasters that can happen in your community. Follow the directions of emergency officials.

The public is invited to visit a free online education module available at www.redcross.org/BeRedCrossReady that walks visitors through these steps.

In addition, to keep preparedness on the forefront of people's thoughts and daily activities throughout the month of September, Red Cross will release new preparedness materials that correspond to four weekly themes; Back to School, Business, Multicultural, and Family Preparedness. These include: A new Masters of Disaster® disaster preparedness curriculum in customized formats for both families and educators that teaches children how to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters and other emergencies; the results of a recent survey on small business preparedness; new disaster emergency preparedness brochures in Korean, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese; a revised brochure, Disaster Preparedness For Seniors By Seniors; and the second volume of the Be Red Cross Ready Safety Series: Dog First Aid.

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