Story: Flooding in Florida

May 2, 2014

PENSACOLA, FL May 2, 2014 — Over the past week, storms have left a wide swath of damage, devastation and despair from the Great Plains to the Gulf Coast and across the Mid-Atlantic. The Red Cross has been there every day to help. Here in Northwest Florida, many families who sought a dry, safe place when floodwaters rose, went to a Red Cross shelter.

Alaina Reed was awakened by her mother at 3 a.m. who was standing next to her bed in inch-deep water. Reed saw that her first-floor Forrest Creek apartment in Pensacola had rapidly rising murky water. Reed woke up her two children, six year-old Ayden and two year-old Lianna. The Reed family spent the next five hours sitting in the dark on the arms an back of their sofa until the sun came up. Then looking out the windows, Reed saw rescue teams bringing boats to the apartments. “The rescue workers carried the kids and our suitcase to the boats and then we were taken on a bus to the Red Cross shelter,” said Reed.

“The water came fast. And it rose high,” said long-time resident Calvin Grace, holding his hand some 4-feet above the
floor. Fortunately he was able to evacuate without a problem – except for the fact that he lost everything beyond for the
clothes he was wearing.

Another Forrest Creek resident, Jamerius Bush, awoke her family of five to take them to their upstairs neighbor when she discovered water rising in her apartment. When she left to go to a Red Cross shelter, she saw her new furniture that was delivered three days earlier, floating in her apartment.

In the days ahead, the Red Cross will also be working with local community partners to provide additional services to help families get back on their feet and begin to recover.

PHOTOS: Sheltering in Miami

August 26, 2012

Today was a good day.

Yes, the wind picked up and the rain came down something fierce as South Florida started feeling the effects of Tropical Storm Isaac, but today was the day Red Crossers met PJ Herring, one of the 26 people seeking shelter from the storm at a Red Cross evacuation center in Miami-Dade County.

Isaac: Miami

The shelter, at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High, was one of six that were opened to give people living in coastal evacuation areas or mobile homes a safe place to stay as Isaac skirted the Florida Keys.

At just three years old, PJ was already the center of attention in a corner of the shelter where a group of 7- and 8-year-olds were trying to keep themselves entertained.

Isaac: Miami Isaac: Miami

And when three other Red Crossers and me showed up with cameras, well, PJ found a way to help us all have fun.

PJ was instantly curious about the camera that hung from strap around my shoulder, and in no time, he was snapping away taking shots of the mural that adorned one of the walls inside the school, of the other children who were playing near us and of Patricia Rojas, one of the Red Crossers who toured the shelter with us.

“I got you,” he would shout when he snapped a picture of anyone nearby. “I got you!”

Isaac: Miami

It was a touching moment that I’ll always treasure. That reminds me why I love my job and the work I do for the American Red Cross. And I hope that all of us, soon, can go back home not at all the worse for wear.

-Chrystian Tejedor works in the Field Marketing Department at the American Red Cross and is a volunteer spokesman based in South Florida.

Isaac: Miami Isaac: Miami

Disaster Alert: Possible Tornado in Florida

July 18, 2012

Disaster Alert

Florida– A possible tornado damaged 2 homes in Ft Pierce yesterday.

The North Treasure Coast Chapter provided shelter and food for 2 families.

Fast Facts: Tropical Storm Debby

July 16, 2012

The following information shows our total service delivery since the beginning of the Tropical Storm Debby:

Disaster Alert: Brush fire in Florida

July 10, 2012

Disaster Alert

Florida – A brush fire burned dozens of acres and threatened homes along the border of Martin and St. Lucie Counties on Monday.

The The Martin County Chapter deployed Response Team members that provided canteen services to emergency responders.

Press Release: Red Cross Provides Tips to Stay Safe When Returning to Flooded Homes

July 10, 2012

Tampa Bay, Florida Tuesday July 10, 2012 - The American Red Cross urges residents to take extra precautions when returning to flood damaged homes, apartments or businesses to avoid accidents or injury. Emergency officials caution that all danger has not passed simply because the water is receding. Flood and high winds leave behind exposed electrical wires, contaminated floodwater and weakened structures and infrastructures. These are not always obvious, but can be life-threatening.


The Red Cross offers the following tips for those in the affected area to stay safer:

  • Continue listening to local radio or television stations 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.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damages.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
  • When it is safe to return home, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys).
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters
  • Clean hard surfaces (flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.

While traveling to and from home following a disaster:

  • Beware of water on the road. Water covering the road could hide potholes or washed-away sections of road.  Never drive around barriers. Cars are buoyant and can begin to float in less than 24” of water. Turn around. Also, water can rise very quickly. You don’t want be caught half way to the other side.
  • Sightseeing can be hazardous following a disaster. Consider all downed power lines “live.” Broken water lines could undermine roads. Even pulling off the road onto soggy road shoulders or medians could lead to an unnecessary tow truck rescue.

To date, Florida’s West Coast Region has served over 13,000 meals and snacks, distributed 423 clean-up kits and more than 350 personal hygiene kits. Statewide, over 450 Red Cross workers from around the country have come to assist those affected by Debby.

Story: Tropical Storm Debby Disaster Relief Update

July 9, 2012

This story is written by Red Crosser Lou Palm.

Outside Florida, hundreds of Red Cross clients remain sheltered from the elements provided a safe environment, food, and disaster relief supplies. Within Florida two shelters remain open providing the same for 49 sheltered residents and several hundred in their homes. This, two weeks following the ravaging of Tropical Storm Debby.

Today Red Cross volunteers from as far away from Sacramento, California remain joined in the Lake City, Florida area staffing shelters, manning disaster relief supply points of distribution, and filling back side roles to support the 350 members of DR 642-12.

 A Red Cross warehouse worker moves disaster relief supplies at the Lake City, Florida DRO warehouse.

Red Cross clients continue to receive bulk disaster relief supplies comprised of clean-up kits, comfort kits, water, tarps, and heater meals. Additionally, client caseworkers continue to provide services to clients including financial assistance where appropriate.

As Red Cross, FEMA and community partner assistance is provided, TS Debby shelter resident numbers continue to decline. However, with elevated levels restricting access to several neighborhoods, recovery will be a long term process.

Two Red Cross volunteers provide a Lake City, Florida Resident with disaster relief supplies

The Red Cross and community partnership team remains dedicated to providing recovery assistance to the greatest extent possible while helping the clients and residents of the area move forward. As it is throughout the nation’s affected areas “thanks for your help is heard”, followed by the Red Cross reply of “we’re happy to be here”.

Press Release: Red Cross Continues To Help Tornado Victims, Fire Clients and Respond Nationwide To Disasters

April 5, 2011


Red Cross volunteers continue to respond down the street, across the country and around the world

CENTRAL FLORIDA, April 5, 2011 – American Red Cross volunteers in Hillsborough County have completed assessments of the damage caused by last Thursday’s tornados, however client casework and mass care services continue. At the same time, Disaster Action Teams have been busy responding to multiple fires throughout the state.

Today’s storms came as an ominous reminder of last week’s violent weather. Many structures that were damaged by the nine tornados may have been weakened further by the heavy rains and strong winds. The Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross in Tallahassee reports that high wind caused major damage to six homes today. Another home was damaged in the Jacksonville area.

While Red Cross volunteers continue to help families affected by the storms, others respond to provide emergency assistance to families who lost their homes to fires. Within the last 24 hours, Tampa Bay Chapter volunteers responded to four fires, one involving an apartment complex where 19 people including 11 children were forced from their homes.

Across the state of Florida – 325 homes were affected by the March 31 tornados; 14 were destroyed and 85 suffered major damage. But, it’s not just Florida that is suffering.

Across the country, the Red Cross responded today after severe spring storms affected hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. At the same time, Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in North Dakota and Minnesota as the Red River continues to rise. In fact, since late March, the Red Cross has played a role in 14 disaster events in 13 states across the nation.

This latest disaster response comes on the heels of the Red Cross assisting people in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Texas where wildfires burned thousands of acres, destroyed homes and forced people to evacuate from their neighborhoods.

Press Release: Red Cross to Open Shelters in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties

March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011 – The American Red Cross Tampa Bay Chapter is opening shelters in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties for people who have been affected by today’s storms. The shelters will open at 6:00 p.m. Shelter locations are:

In Pinellas County:
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church located at 455 Missouri Ave., Largo.

Hillsborough County:
Limona Village Chapel, 408 Limona Rd., Brandon
St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 4120 N. MacDill Blvd., Ave., Tampa

Anyone that may need to evacuate their homes due to storm damage should bring with them the following items: Bedding, pillows and blankets, Toys and items to keep children occupied, Medications, Personal hygiene items, and Personal identification.

For more information, please contact the American Red Cross in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties can call toll free 877-741-1444.

Disaster Alert: Tornado in Florida

March 10, 2011

Disaster Alert

Florida – A tornado touched down in Escambia County yesterday causing varying degrees of damage to homes and displacing four families.

The Northeast Florida Chapter provided food and lodging to those affected.


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