American Red Cross Being Stretched to Provide Relief

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Hurricane Irene - NASATHUNDER BAY – One often does not think of the United States as a country in need. However right now natural disasters, the major flooding on the East Coast of the US and massive wildfires in Texas are putting a major hit on the resources of the American Red Cross. In New York, there are people left without homes from flooding due to rain. This steady rainfall coming on the heels of the massive rainfall totals from Hurricane Irene are causing serious problems.

The American Red Cross costs for this multi-disaster response are growing by the hour. It is estimated the response to Hurricane Irene alone will cost between $10 million and $15 million. Flood operations in Pennsylvania and New York, in addition to the large wildfire response in Texas will add to that estimate.

The American Red Cross is sheltering and feeding people in 10 states who are being forced to leave their homes as major flooding hits the East Coast and fires tear through Texas. Thousands of people are being forced from their homes and National Guard troops are assisting with evacuations in some areas. A school in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, was cut off by flood waters, isolating more than 700 students. Roads are flooded throughout the area, bridges are under water, and many homes and business are already inundated with floodwaters. Rivers are expected to crest early Friday morning, more than ten feet above flood stage in some communities.

The Red Cross has shelters open all over the region and is sending additional disaster workers and supplies into the area. More than 650 people spent Wednesday night in Red Cross shelters in New York. Disaster workers are ready to help throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania, where approximately 125 residents have already sought refuge in more than 20 Red Cross shelters.

The best way someone can find an open shelter is to listen to their local media. They can also visit www.redcross.org or download the free Red Cross shelter app for their iPhone. If headed to a shelter, they should bring extra clothing, pillows, blankets, prescriptions and emergency medication, personal hygiene items, and important documents.

Red Cross relief operations are continuing in Texas where wildfires are still burning. More than 230 people there spent Wednesday night in Red Cross shelters to escape the smoke and flames of the fires. Officials report more than 880 homes have already been destroyed. The Red Cross is also supporting emergency responders and people forced from their homes by serving drinks and snacks.

Relief operations are also ongoing in North Carolina, New Jersey and throughout New England where Hurricane Irene destroyed thousands of homes at the end of August. Approximately 319 people spent Wednesday night in Red Cross shelters in those areas.

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