Red Cross Calls for ACTION NOW during National Hurricane Preparedness Week

National Poll Reveals Hurricane-prone Communities Less Prepared Than Before

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Contact: Ray Steen
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WASHINGTON, Friday, May 14, 2004 — National Hurricane Preparedness Week kicks off May 16 with dismal news – only 40 percent of hurricane-prone communities are prepared, according to a national poll released by the American Red Cross. The poll revealed that nearly 60 percent of hurricane-prone residents do not have an evacuation plan or a disaster supplies kit packed with lifesaving tools.

Hurricane Preparedness Survey Results
“Waiting until the last minute to prepare or not believing that hurricanes can hit your community is a huge mistake,” said Joe Becker, Vice President of Response, American Red Cross. “We saw that last year when Hurricane Isabel devastated communities as far north as the District of Columbia and Maryland – many people were caught off-guard.”

Hurricanes can devastate communities anywhere along the coasts. In 2003, Hurricane Isabel wreaked havoc in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, causing more than 51,000 people to seek refuge in 400 Red Cross shelters. More than 20,000 Red Cross disaster relief workers delivered 2.2 million meals and distributed more than 21,000 clean-up kits to those in need.

Two years ago, 6,000 Red Cross relief workers responded to Hurricane Lili and Tropical Storm Isidore by sheltering 20,820 evacuees and providing mental health counseling for 10,000 people in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. In September 1999, Hurricane Floyd forced the largest peacetime evacuation in United States history. The Red Cross responded with $32.9 million in aid to victims from Florida to Connecticut.

“Somehow people have fallen into a false sense of security and are not taking steps to prepare,” Becker said. “Fortunately, National Hurricane Preparedness Week offers people a reminder to take action now before the disaster occurs.”

On a positive note, the survey indicates that coastal residents who do make preparations take the issue very seriously. Of those households with an evacuation plan, 84 percent have included their children in the disaster planning process. Additionally, 71 percent of families who have a person with a disability or health problem have special plans to take care of their needs – a significant increase from 50 percent in 2001.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends November 30. Expert hurricane predictor William Gray believes the Atlantic will spawn 14 "named" tropical storms this year, and that eight of them will grow into hurricanes.

Select Lowe’s stores in 14 coastal markets are collaborating with local American Red Cross chapters to host Hurricane Preparedness Fairs throughout June and July. The fairs will include local emergency response organizations and vendors, and several also will include special appearances by hurricane readiness expert and founder of the Hurricane Intercept Research Team, Mark Sudduth. Residents also can pick up free copies of the Lowe’s and American Red Cross Hurricane Readiness Guide and Map, available at coastal Lowe’s stores beginning late May.

As communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts prepare for hurricane season, the Red Cross recommends the following safety steps and tips:

    Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit
    • Gather emergency supplies including: emergency medications, nonperishable food, a non-electric can opener, bottled water (at least three gallons per day per person), a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, extra clothes, important documents, cash and credit cards, a first aid kit and other items for infants, elderly or disabled family members and pets
    • Store supplies in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container, such as a plastic tub with handles

    Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan

    • Identify an evacuation route ahead of time; discuss with family members
    • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately
    • In case of evacuation to an American Red Cross shelter, be sure to bring the disaster supplies kit, medications, extra clothing, pillows and blankets and other hygiene and comfort supplies
    • Make advance preparations for pets so you can bring them with you when you leave, but remember, due to health department regulations, pets aren't allowed in public shelters

    Prepare for High Winds

    • Measure windows and obtain shutters or cut plywood to cover each one
    • Remove diseased and damaged tree limbs well before a storm strikes
    • Strengthen garage doors with vertical support beams made from 2X4s and "L" brackets. Get professional help if needed

Your help is needed to ensure that the American Red Cross can be there wherever and whenever disaster strikes. Please make a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund today by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW or visit http://www.redcross.org/pressrelease/www.redcross.org to make a secure online credit card donation, find your local chapter, or get more information on how you can help your American Red Cross.

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Espanol). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make secure online credit card donations by visiting https://www.redcross.org//donate/donation-form.asp.


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