Donations Make a Difference in Tornado Recovery, Red Cross Says
Red Cross officials say that donations have made a real difference in the lives of North Carolinians following the tornadoes of 2011.
April 16, 2012 marked the first anniversary of the largest tornado outbreak in state history, when storms swept across central and eastern North Carolina, impacting more than 30 counties, claiming 24 lives and injuring 133 people.
Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.
Carol Ann Lentz, interim executive director of the Moore County chapter, said the Red Cross “rushed to respond” immediately after the storms, setting up shelters and providing first aid to victims.
“Thanks to the generous contributions of so many donors, people affected by the tornadoes in North Carolina received immediate relief and resources of emergency shelter, food, water and other supplies,” Lentz said. “North Carolinians responded quickly to help their families, friends and neighbors, and these donations have made a real difference in the lives of those affected.”
In response to the tornadoes, the Red Cross Triangle Coastal Region assisted 581 families, provided 1,459 nights of shelter, and provided more than $506,000 in direct financial assistance to affected families for a total operation cost of $1,299,055, Lentz said.
“To date, the American Red Cross has provided relief and assistance to the more than 6,600 families affected in North Carolina. In addition to opening shelters and mobilizing volunteers and feeding trucks after tornadoes touched down, the Red Cross also mobilized mental health workers to assist people affected by the storm.”
Lentz said relief and recovery efforts are still continuing.
Since April 16, 2011, 795 Red Cross volunteers have distributed nearly 12,000 clean-up kits including shovels, rakes, work gloves and trash bags along with comfort kits and bulk items, and have served more than 85,000 meals and 125,000 snacks around the state.
“To put the tornado damage in perspective, last year 3,500 families lost their homes to fire in North Carolina alone,” Lentz said. “The Red Cross spent nearly $1.9 million for food, shelter and clothing for the victims of those home fires. The number of family homes destroyed or uninhabitable in one night by the tornadoes was 1,800.”
Spring is the time of year known for dangerous tornado activity in the United States, but tornadoes can form at any time of the year. The Red Cross has safety tips people can use should a tornado hit their neighborhood.
“A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area and be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or someone suspects a tornado is approaching. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar. People should immediately go underground to a basement, storm cellar or interior room of the house,” Lentz said.
Here are additional tips from the Red Cross if a tornado warning is issued:
Go to an underground shelter or safe room if available. A hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is also a safe alternative.
Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. If there is access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, get out of the mobile home immediately and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter.
If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
If unable to walk to a shelter quickly, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle the seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
If debris is flying while driving, pull over and park. Stay in the car with the seat belt on, head down below the windows and covered with hands and a blanket if possible.
If it is possible to get safely to an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of the car and lie in that area. A person’s choice should be driven by specific circumstances.
For more information on what to do before, during and after a tornado, visit www.redcross.org.
Donations may be made by visiting the link above, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or by visiting or mailing your contribution to the American Red Cross-Moore County chapter at P.O. Box 407, Southern Pines, NC 28388. The chapter is at 115 East Pennsylvania Ave. in Southern Pines. Office hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Fridays.
“Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters,” Lentz said.
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