LOUISIANA — The American Red Cross is preparing for what could be a large disaster response spanning multiple states and is already starting to help the millions of people whose communities are under warnings from Tropical Storm Isaac. Volunteers from Wisconsin are among those headed southeast as Isaac threatens to make landfall in Louisiana -- during the week that marks the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
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Red Cross disaster workers are responding throughout the Gulf region, providing shelter and help in Florida and preparing to open evacuation shelters in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
As of Monday, August 27, the Red Cross:
- Deployed more than 1,500 disaster workers across the Gulf Coast to help with Red Cross efforts.
- Sheltered hundreds of people Sunday night in Florida. More than 560 people spent Sunday night in Red Cross and community shelters after Isaac brought heavy rain, power outages and flooding. Overall, the Red Cross opened 22 shelters and supported 20 community shelters overnight.
- Put dozens of shelters on stand-by along the Gulf, where evacuations have already been ordered in some area. Shelters are likely to open in the area throughout the day.
- Sent mobile kitchens and truckloads of relief supplies to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. More than 50 pre-positioned support trailers are ready with supplies.
- Activated more than 150 emergency response vehicles (ERVs) in those states and from around the country to help.
- Continued to help in Florida where flooding continues. Red Cross disaster workers will continue to help those affected by opening shelters, providing meals and distributing relief supplies like personal hygiene and clean-up items.
Sandra Luedtke and Melody Stevenson were all business Monday as they made sure the Red Cross' Milwaukee-based emergency response vehicle is fully loaded for Louisiana.
Positioning people in the Gulf for Isaac has been a guessing game for Red Cross leaders.
"Hurricanes don't tell us what they're going to do, unfortunately. It was coming directly to Florida so we did mobilizing, and put quite a few resources in Florida, and now we're realizing it's moving, so we're going to be moving those people," Patty Flowers with the American Red Cross said.
Luedtke said she's just happy to help whenever she's called, but especially after another potential hurricane bears down on New Orleans almost seven years to the day since Hurricane Katrina.
"It doesn't scare me, but it really makes my heart go out to the people," Luedtke said.
Red Cross officials say people who may be in the path of Isaac should stay informed about the storm and leave the area if authorities direct them to do so.
People should restock their disaster supplies, and fill their vehicle’s gas tank. They should also get ready to bring anything inside that can be picked up by the wind such as lawn furniture and bicycles. Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
If someone needs to find a shelter, they can download the Red Cross Hurricane app or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The free Hurricane App features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. It can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
The Red Cross Safe and Well website is a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, CLICK HERE or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.
Tropical Storm Isaac is predicted to trigger a large and prolonged disaster response with major flooding across several states. People can call, click or text to donate by CLICKING HERE, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
CLICK HERE for additional Isaac coverage via FOX6Now.com.