Red Cross Responds to Tornado Victims, Assesses Damage, Offers Support

March 08, 2012; 3:18 PM
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This photo of a tornado damaged home in Lowndes, Ga., was taken by AccuWeather.com Facebook fan Sharon R. on March 4, 2012.

Within hours of a tornado, Red Cross workers are on the scene assisting victims in any way they can.

Their response to the tornadoes that impacted states throughout the Ohio and Tennessee valleys Friday began within hours and is still underway.

Indiana

"There is complete devastation in Henryville," Vicki Eichstaedt, spokesperson for the Clark County chapter of the American Red Cross, said. "There is not a lot standing."

"The buildings that are standing have missing roofs, blown-out windows and siding that has been damaged by hail," she said.

The tornado destroyed the elementary, middle and high schools. Many churches also sustained major damage.

The Red Cross opened 25 shelters in seven states to house those affected by the tornadoes.

"Yesterday and today the emergency officials and volunteers have been working diligently to get tarps on roofs and restore water and power. They have been working to remove trees from the homes and cars," Eichstaedt said.

People working to salvage their possessions from their homes should be aware that the temperatures will drop tonight.

"We want to stress to the people to come and visit the shelters. They will have a warm place to sit and can get something to eat," Eichstaedt said.

There will also be trained people that can offer emotional support, help with planning what to do next and inform people on how to get needed resources.

"Don't work too long out in the cold, it doesn't take long for your hands and feet to get too cold," she said.

Eichstaedt said they expect to begin the distribution of bulk items on Monday.

"The disaster assessments are just about done. Once they are complete, we can determine the kind of help the people of Henryville will need going forward," said Eichstaedt.

Alabama

Red Cross workers assessed the damage to homes in both Madison and Limestone counties Saturday, according to Mary Moreillon, director of the local American Red Cross.

"Limestone County received the heaviest damage," Moreillon said.

In Limestone County, 17 homes were totally destroyed, 26 homes sustained major damage and 156 others were damaged in some way. Three mobile homes were also destroyed.

"There is a subdivision in Limestone that we were unable to assess. Power lines were down in the area and roads were closed. No people were being allowed in," said Moreillon.

In the neighboring county of Madison, 21 homes were destroyed, 18 sustained major damage and 12 mobile homes were also destroyed.

"Three apartment buildings were also damaged. There is an apartment building in Meridianville that was not able to be assessed today, Moreillon said.

Moreillon said the crews would return and try again to assess the damage.

Crews are out in the emergency response vehicles offering food and water to people who are working.

"It is hard to handle and coordinate our efforts when the damage is so widespread."

A Red Cross emergency response vehicle stops to offer assistance to a vehicle off the road in Walker's Crossing, Ga., in this photograph taken by AccuWeather.com Facebook fan Sharon R. on March 4, 2012.

Georgia

Red Cross crews went out to assess the damage to homes in Paulding County on Saturday, according to Sherry Nicholson, spokesperson for Atlanta's American Red Cross.

A total of 85 homes have been damaged to some degree. "One home was completely destroyed, four had major damage, 23 had minor damage and the rest were damaged in some way.

The crews covered all the affected areas of Paulding County on Saturday, Nicholson said.

"Emergency response vehicles were out yesterday doing assessments and distributing water and snacks to people cleaning up," Nicholson said.

Sunday the Red Cross was assessing damage to homes in the southern Georgia counties of Lowndes and Lanier, according to Nicholson.

There are reports that tornadoes may have touched down in both counties.

In Lanier County, there are reports that homes have been blown off of their foundations, a hospital has extensive roof damage, outbuildings are damaged and there was a gas leak. Numerous trees and power lines are also reported to be down.

Reports from Lowndes County state that two mobile homes were flipped, a barn was damaged and trees and power lines are down.

The Red Cross emergency response vehicles were in both counties Sunday handing out water and snacks to people working and cleaning up debris.

People wishing to help the tornado victims can donate to the Red Cross. Text "Red Cross" to 90999 to donate $10. You can also visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to make a donation.

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