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American Red Cross Volunteers Respond to Help Residents Following Storms and Tornadoes

The American Red Cross is providing comfort and care to residents affected by the storms and tornadoes that hit parts of Illinois on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. Volunteers from the Central and Southern Illinois Region are on the ground in Brown, Franklin, Marshall, Massac, White and Woodford Counties working with emergency personnel and community partners to identify residents affected and provide services.

Residents in need of assistance due to storm damage should contact the Red Cross at 844-319-6560.

“The damage in our region was scattered and we are reaching out to individual families affected to offer services and comfort,” said Alyssa Pollock, American Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer. “Volunteers worked late into the night last night and were back out in the communities early this morning to identify needs and helping those we serve.”

Red Cross volunteers on the scene are members of the local Disaster Action Team, a group of specially trained volunteers who respond to the scene of a disaster when called upon at any time of the day or night.

What to Do After a Tornado

·         Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.

·         If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

·         Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.

·         Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.

·         Stay out of damaged buildings.

·         Use battery-powered 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 and call the gas company or fire department.

·         Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.

·         Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

·         Keep all of your animals under your direct control

·         Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.

·         Check for injuries. If you are trained, provide first aid to persons in need until emergency responders arrive.

As You Rebuild

·         Strengthen existing garage doors to improve the wind resistance, particularly doublewide garage doors.

·         If your home has been significantly damaged and will require rebuilding parts or all of it, consult with your contractor about having a tornado safe room built during the process. A tornado safe room can save lives. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA web site.


Ask a Professional

·         Look at common connections in wood frame buildings and add anchors, clips and straps that will provide more strength to your home

·         Reinforce masonry walls that provide structural support to your home.

·         Secure your chimney. Masonry chimneys that extend more than six feet above the roof or have a width of 40 inches or more should have continuous vertical reinforcing steel placed in the corners to provide greater resistance to wind loads.

·         Permanently connect your manufactured home to its foundation to decrease the potential for damage from high winds.

·         The Red Cross encourages those in tornado-prone areas to use the Tornado Safety Checklist, which provides information on what you can do before, during and after a tornado strikes.


Power Outage Safety

·         Stay away from downed power lines!

·         Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.

·         Use a flashlight – not candle

·         Use a flashlight, do not use candles during a power outage due to extreme risk of fire. 

·         Caution – Carbon Monoxide Kills!

·         When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.

·         If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.

·         Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

To make a financial donation to the Red Cross to help people affected by house fires and other disasters here in the United States and around the world, people can visit, call (844) 319-6560 or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 (to make a $10 donation).