WASHINGTON, DC (WVLT) — The American Red Cross is responding across the South and Midwest after a severe weather outbreak that spawned tornadoes Thursday. The series of tornadoes destroyed homes and businesses and left thousands without power in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
“Red Cross disaster workers are providing shelter, meals and relief supplies today across five states after yesterday’s tornadoes,” said Trevor Riggen, vice president of Disaster Operations for the Red Cross. “Many homes and businesses were destroyed and we are there helping people get back on their feet.”
In Arkansas, a confirmed tornado destroyed homes and businesses in six counties. The Red Cross is distributing relief supplies and serving meals in partnership with the Salvation Army. A tornado also touched down in Kemper and Noxubee, Mississippi, destroying multiple homes and businesses. The Red Cross deployed several emergency response vehicles to the area to distribute relief supplies, food, water and begin damage assessment.
In Missouri, two confirmed tornadoes destroyed homes and businesses in the St. Louis area. The Red Cross opened a shelter there, is providing meals and has outreach teams going door to door in some areas to help determine what help people need. Red Cross workers in Louisiana are distributing relief supplies and will be doing damage assessment after a tornado struck Slidell. A tornado also touched down in Monroe County, Tennessee, damaging homes and businesses. The Red Cross opened a shelter and is distributing food and relief supplies throughout the damaged neighborhoods.
As people return to their neighborhoods, the Red Cross has steps they should follow to stay safe. First, they should return home only when local authorities say it is safe to do so and listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. Other safety steps include:
· Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
· Stay out of damaged buildings.
· Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining your home for damage.
· Use 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.
Another thing people should do is download the free Red Cross Tornado App, available in English or Spanish. The app, found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross, includes important features like a high-pitched siren and tornado warning alert that signals when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued.