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August 28, 2011 - Red Cross volunteers Rick Knight, standing, and Dick Stelmat, seated, plot Connecticut shelter locations on a map in the Connecticut Region Headquarters in Farmington, CT. (Photo Credit: Paul D. Shipman/American Red Cross)
Even though Irene is now a tropical storm, it is critical that residents and businesses continue to listen to the instructions of their local officials and closely follow news and weather reports. Tropical storms still bring high sustained winds, heavy rains, and can cause dangerous conditions and flash flooding.
If you’re in an area already affected by Irene, here are a few reminders on staying safe:
- Stay away from downed power lines, flooded roadways and fallen tree limbs.
- If your area has lost, or may lose, electricity, remember to never use portable generators indoors or in garages, basements or sheds. The exhaust from generators contains high levels of carbon monoxide that can quickly incapacitate and kill.
- Don’t drive or walk through flooded areas. The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles -- this includes pickups and SUVs.
- If you have evacuated, don’t return home until the all clear is given by local officials. There may be hazards that prevent you from being able to return home such as downed power lines, road closures, roads or bridges that are impassable, and traffic lights not working.
What We’re Doing
Our immediate focus and priority, as we move from into the response and initial recovery phase, is to do everything we can to support first responders and emergency managers at the frontlines with efforts to keep residents and communities safe. Here’s a brief update on what we’re doing:
- We’ve proactively positioned a total of 18 Incident Management Assistance Teams along the coast to coordinate with state, tribal and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls affecting potential disaster response and recovery.
- Six national urban search and rescue teams, comprised of more than 500 personnel, are activated and ready to deploy if needed.
- Community relations teams are being staged to support states along the East Coast. These teams, if needed, help inform disaster survivors about available services and resources.
- Mobile Emergency Response System assets have been strategically located along the entire east coast to support emergency response communications needs.
And although the storm is still passing through the Northeast, some may already be thinking about how they can help the survivors and affected communities. Remember to not send unsolicited donations after a disaster, but to go through a recognized disaster relief organization to find out what the needs are. Cash is often the most efficient way to help those affected by a disaster. Cash donations allow voluntary and faith-based organizations to fund response and recovery efforts, obtain goods and services locally, and provide direct financial assistance to disaster survivors to meet their own needs.