Do you have and use a weather radio?

The Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and emotional support to people affected by Wednesday's tornadoes that swept across the South and Midwest, including southern Missouri (pictured here). Photo Credit: Nigel Holderby/American Red Cross

Following the devastating tornadoes that swept across the Midwest and South early Wednesday morning, we urge you, your family, and your friends to take a moment or two now and prepare for what’s turning out to be an early tornado season. 

  • Pick a safe place in your home or apartment building, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room with no windows, where household members and pets can gather.
  • Use a weather radio that broadcasts National Weather Service watches and warnings. A weather radio can alert you to storms during the night, helping to save your life or the lives of your loved ones. Learn more in this NPR story.
  • Watch for tornado warning signs such as dark, greenish clouds, large hail, a roaring noise, a cloud of debris or funnel clouds. Secure outside items such as lawn furniture or trash cans, which could be picked up by the wind and injure someone.
  • If a tornado watch is issued, it means tornadoes are possible and you should be ready to act quickly. If a tornado warning is issued, it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar and you should go underground immediately to a basement or storm cellar or to an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.
  • If a tornado warning is issued and you are outside,  you should hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If you cannot get to a building, you should get in a vehicle, buckle in, and drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, you should pull over and stay in the car with the seat belt on and your head below the window, covering your head with a blanket or other available protection.
  • If you do not not have a vehicle, you should find ground lower than the surface of the roadway and cover your head with your hands.

You can help those affected by disasters like the Midwest tornadoes and storms, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Consider making a donation today by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or sending a text with the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Contributions enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.

 

Red Cross Responds On Sub-Zero Minnesota Morning

By Red Cross Volunteers Dave Schoeneck and Grace Thompson

When fire struck an apartment building on a recent sub-zero morning in Minnesota, residents had little time to do more than escape. Some leaped from second- and third-story windows while others dropped their children into the arms of first responders.

Eleven apartments suffered extensive damage, displacing more than 30 people. Within minutes, Twin Cities Red Cross volunteers responded to assist them.

Red Cross Comfort Kit
A simple Red Cross Comfort Kit, which includes shampoo, soap, and other essential personal care items, helps people with immediate disaster relief. Photo credit: Grace Thompson/American Red Cross

“Some people fled the burning building in nothing more than shorts,” said Anne Florenzano, a Red Cross volunteer who arrived on the scene early Tuesday.

Heated buses provided initial refuge while residents wondered where they’d sleep that night. By 10:30 AM, the Red Cross had opened a shelter offering a safe and warm place for families to sleep and make plans for rebuilding lives torn apart by disaster.

Kiara Faalafula, a six year-old girl living with her grandmother, was dropped from the second story window because smoke filled the halls made escape by stairs impossible. A police officer caught the kindergartener and took her to a heated bus where she was given a blanket, and later a coat.

Melvin Saballos, 31, who also lived on the second floor, was woken by his father about 5:45 AM. The hall was so filled with smoke that the only exit was through a window.

Melvin, 31, escaped the burning building on a ladder and later sought refuge in a Red Cross shelter. Photo credit: Grace Thompson/American Red Cross

“The Red Cross has been very attentive to the needs of the people, making sure that nobody panics,” said Saballos. “The Red Cross has been incredibly helpful. We are warm and safe.”

Britney Godfrey and Roderick Diggins, along with their daughter, MaKayla, and Roderick’s sister, Ladietra Diggins and her son, Tre’von Diggans, lived in a third floor apartment.

MaKayla, 3, was dropped from a third-story apartment window and caught by a police officer. Here, she's getting clean socks and pants (that are way too big for her). Photo credit: Grace Thompson/American Red Cross

Britney woke up, smelled smoke, and tried to get everyone out, but the smoke-filled hallway was impassible. Godfrey realized that the window was the only way out. After dropping the children into the arms of first responders, the three adults then jumped to save their own lives. All are grateful for the Red Cross help they’ve received.

Since January 1, The Twin Cities Red Cross has responded to 80 fire disasters, providing comfort and other immediate disaster relief for more than 250 people. More than 75 Red Cross volunteers have assisted these families.

Residents affected by the Bloomington apartment fire or other recent disasters can call (612) 871-7676 for more information about the Red Cross and disaster relief services.

Flashlight, Food, and Water

Our first winter storm of the season is approaching. The grocery stores are bustling (good for our economy, yes?) and people are pulling out their sweaters and comforters, getting ready for a long weekend at home.

To help, the Red Cross has a winter storm safety check list.  

Upon review we noticed that the check list does not specifically mention some of our favorite winter preparedness items, such as footie pajamas, apple cider, dark and/or milk chocolate, and lightsaber.

Our emergency services director Jill, who grew up in the country, remembers having to stay inside for days during snow storms. She suggests having movies and popcorn on hand, but if you do not have power then a camping lantern and deck of “Old Maid” playing cards should help pass the time.

Otherwise, you can do like Jill’s dad did: move all furniture and stuff to the center of the basement and ride a bicycle around in circles.