Hurricane Irene

Q My neighborhood is being evacuated, what do I need to bring to the shelter? A The Red Cross encourages those who plan to stay in a Red Cross evacuation shelter to bring the following items for each member of their family: prescription and emergency medication, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. Additionally, special items for children and infants, such as diapers, formulas and toys, should be brought, along with other items for family members who are elderly or disabled. Q How can I find out if a Red Cross shelter is open near my home? A From a computer, visit and click on the “Find Shelter” link. Red Cross shelters that are currently open will be indicated with a flag on the map and in a list on the right side of your screen. By clicking on either the flag or the name of the shelter, a new box will appear on the map with the address of the shelter. You can also use the search box to find shelters close to a specific address or within a certain zip code. Q How often is the shelter information on updated? A The shelter information on is automatically refreshed every 30 minutes to show the latest data that has been placed in the system by chapters. Q A local radio station is reporting that a shelter is open in my neighborhood but it’s not showing up on Why not? A There are many reasons why a shelter may not appear on The Red Cross only displays Red Cross shelters, and on occasion other community organizations as well as local government open and operate shelters. Also, shelter locations on are updated every 30 minutes, so it may take a few minutes for new shelters to appear on the map. Q How do I find non-Red Cross shelters that are open? A Many local governments and other community agencies open shelters to help people after a disaster and local news outlets often publicize these shelters. Alternatively, try calling 211, if this service is available in your community. If 211 isn’t available, try calling your local emergency management office for help locating an open shelter. Q What information do you have to assist with entering back into my home immediately following high winds and hurricanes? A Information is available on Please check out our booklet Picking Up The Pieces After a Disaster. Q Is there a fee to stay? A No. Q How am I going to get food? A Red Cross will provide nutritious meals while you are at a Red Cross shelter. Q Do you have phones/computers? Can I bring my own?

A Yes and yes, including your phone charger. Q Can I get transportation to a shelter? A Local public transportation may be available. Q Can my family stay together in one shelter? A Yes. Q What about my children? A While the Red Cross tries to have play areas and games for children, but parents are responsible for caring for their children. Q Is daycare provided? A Not usually. Q What should I not bring into a shelter? A DO NOT bring: Weapons, alcohol, Illegal or non-prescription drugs. Q How long will I be there? A Until it is safe to return home. Q How will I know it’s safe to go home? A Emergency Officials will determine when it is safe to return to your home. Q Will my family and I be safe? A The Red Cross has staff in the Emergency Operations Centers and will update needed information continuously. The Red Cross does not open shelters in areas that could be flooded. Q What are you going to do if the shelter becomes damaged or flooded? A The Red Cross will determine safety of the building and move the residents to another facility if necessary, once it is safe to do so. Q What happens when the power goes out in the shelter? A Red Cross does have items like flashlights, etc.

Letting People Know You are Safe
Q How do I let my family and friends know I’m okay? A During an emergency like a hurricane, letting your family know that you are safe can bring your loved ones great peace of mind. That’s why the Red Cross has developed an easy-touse online tool, called Safe and Well, to help families and individuals notify loved ones that they are safe during an emergency. Q How does Safe and Well work? A. To register, people should visit and click on the “List Yourself or Search Registrants” link under “How to Get Help”. People in the affected areas can list themselves as “safe and well” on the site by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Disaster victims can also update their Facebook and Twitter status through the Safe and Well Web site. From a smart phone, visit and click on the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for friends and family” link. You can also call a family member or friend who has internet access and ask them to register you. Q How else do I connect with my family?

A Contact family before you leave. The Red Cross may help to keep you in contact via phone, computer etc. Please keep in mind that resources may not be working.

Red Cross Services
Q What kind of disaster relief services does the Red Cross provide? A The Red Cross responds on the scene of emergencies to help provide for the urgent needs of disaster victims. We focus on providing safe shelter, feeding victims and emergency workers, providing mental health and emotional support services, providing basic first aid and health services and distributing clean-up supplies and comfort items. Red Cross casework is also an important part of our relief services. Our caseworkers can meet one-on-one with clients to help them plan for long-term recovery. Q What kinds of emergency services are not provided by the Red Cross? A The Red Cross doesn’t have the expertise, equipment or resources to perform every disaster service. Services such as evacuation coordination, search and rescue, advanced medical care, pet sheltering and medical sheltering are best performed by government agencies or organizations that have the resources, trained workers and expertise to carry out those functions. We work closely with the groups involved in those services to ensure that we can meet the needs of people who come to us for help. Q What type of individual assistance is Red Cross providing? A Red Cross client caseworkers are available to meet one-on-one with clients to address disaster- caused needs. Caseworkers offer information and resources to support the recovery process. Q Is the Red Cross providing financial assistance to people affected by Hurricane Irene? A Our first priority is to ensure that people have food, water and safe shelter. After that, we look to providing needed comfort and clean up items. Since all disasters are different, financial assistance may or may not be necessary to meet the remaining needs. For large disasters such as Hurricane Irene, the federal government or other entities often make financial resources available. FEMA may provide cash assistance, and other government agencies such as HUD and SBA may provide housing and small business loans. To avoid duplicating federal assistance, the Red Cross typically doesn’t distribute money in areas where FEMA is doing so. Q Will the Red Cross replace groceries or food lost because of a power outage? A No. Red Cross feeding services at shelters and through mobile feeding efforts are meant to ensure that no one goes hungry after a disaster. Power outages are often widespread and sometimes affect hundreds of thousands of people. It would be nearly impossible—both logistically and financially—for the Red Cross to replace groceries for that many people. Q How does the Red Cross communicate with diverse communities during a disaster? A It’s important for disaster clients to understand how to access our services, no matter what language they speak. We have spokespeople trained in several languages who often provide media interviews. In addition, we work with many partners who provide services to non-English speaking communities. We provide them with information and printed materials to distribute to their clients. Red Cross disaster preparedness and safety information is available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Creole, Chinese and a variety of other languages. Q Why doesn’t the Red Cross have a cot and blanket for everyone in hurricane evacuation shelter? A Evacuation shelters are only meant to house people for 12-24 hours until the storm moves through. A local Red Cross chapter may not have enough supplies to provide a cot and blanket for each person and it may not be practical to move in supplies for such short-term shelters. If

there is enough lead-time or it becomes evident that shelters will stay open after landfall, the Red Cross can move supplies in from other areas. Q I’ve been trying to call 1-800-RED CROSS and can’t get through. Is there another number I can call to get help? A Like every other agency during a major disaster, Red Cross phone lines may be overwhelmed after the storm. If you are having difficulty getting through on 1-800-RED CROSS, first check your local news media and local authorities for information on where to find shelter and get help in your communities. You can also go to for shelter locations and information on how to connect with loved ones.

Mental Health Needs
Q I’m having trouble sleeping because I’m worried about the hurricane and what will happen. What should I do? A Having difficulty sleeping before or after a major event, like a hurricane or other large storm, is common. You might want to talk with your friends or family about what is going on for you. Check the document “Taking Care of Your Emotional Health” for other suggestions. Q My children are acting up and misbehaving more than they ever have. I’m running out of patience. What can I do? A Children are especially vulnerable to the stresses associated with a disaster, like a hurricane. The best strategy you can take is for you to remain calm. Children will take their cues from you; if you are upset, they will be, too. Do the best you can to take care of yourself and that will help your children as well. Also, don’t be afraid to take a break if you need it. Our publication, “Helping Children Cope with Disasters”, will provide more information. Q My family keeps telling me to take a break and “relax.” They don’t understand that I have a lot to do to take care of our basic needs, such as food and housing. What can I tell them? A Your family may be responding that way because they know you. The stress of a disaster takes its toll on everyone who has felt the impact. Frequently, after a disaster, all the practical tasks seem to be monumental and urgent. If you and your family are safe from danger, it is okay to take it one step at a time and to put self-care on the top of your priority list. Maybe it would be a good idea to do what your family is suggesting. Q I have a friend who lost everything in the storm. I’m concerned because my friend was already unemployed and has been saying that there’s no point in going on. He seems so hopeless and dejected. What can I do? A If you are concerned about your friend’s safety or the safety of those around him, you need to seek help IMMEDIATELY. Call 911 if you believe he has plans to hurt himself or others. If you are worried but there is not an immediate danger, you could look under CRISIS INTERVENTION or HOTLINES in your local yellow pages. Many areas have a 211 or 311 phone number that lists local resources. You could also call 1-800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to discuss your concerns.

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