Here are two updates from American Red Cross on its massive relief effort. Please support them if you are able. I apologize for formatting problems due to the copy and paste, and embedded graphics will not show.
By now, you are likely aware that the Red Cross is responding in Louisiana to what is likely the worst natural disaster we’ve seen since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Historic flooding continues to submerge vast swaths of southern Louisiana trapping thousands in their homes, requiring water rescues of over 20,000 people, and forcing thousands of others to evacuate: we have over 10,600 people in at least 50 shelters tonight as I write this. About 1,700 National Guard troops were mobilized, with more on the way, more than 200 roads are closed, and at least 4 people have died as a result of these floods. This evening, the President declared a major disaster in Louisiana, specifically in the parishes of Tangipahoa, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge and Livingston—we expect more to be added to the list. Our response: DR 063-17 is now a Level 7 National Operation, which means we’re anticipating incremental costs to exceed $10 million.
This is an AP aerial photo along the flooded Tangipahoa River near Amite, Louisiana, Aug. 13, 2016.
How did this happen?
Basically, the inland equivalent of a slow-moving tropical cyclone parked itself over southeast Louisiana and dumped 24+ inches of rain in about 72 hours. It looked like this on Friday:
That means there was so much moisture in the atmosphere that parts of Louisiana saw more rain in 3 days than some U.S. cities have seen in the last few years combined. Here you can see the 3-day precipitation levels from Sunday morning:
When that much moisture is available in the atmosphere, you get excessive rainfall of several inches per hour, and when the weather system just sits there like this one did (we call that a “stalled frontal boundary”), you literally get deluged. That much rain first caused dangerous flash flooding. Then, all that rain caused the rivers in Southeast Louisiana suddenly to rise well above major flood stage—at least eight river gauges set new records, exceeding the previous records by several feet and breaking records nearly a century old in some cases. Unfortunately, Louisiana and southeast Texas remain at risk for heavy rain and flooding for the next few days as the tropical moisture expands northward from the Gulf Coast and interacts with that stalled frontal boundary. We’re also expecting locally heavy rain in Mississippi and parts of Arkansas to southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio —fortunately, we’re not expecting rainfall amounts to be nearly as heavy as what we've seen the last few days.
This is the second time in 5 months that Louisiana has seen more than 24 inches of rain from a single event. Earlier this year, almost 27 inches of rain fell near Monroe, Louisiana, on March 8-11, 2016, causing record flooding.
Parts of Mississippi also felt the impact of heavy rains and flooding with more than 50 people in a shelter in Natchez until at least Monday.
What are we doing about it?
Our operational centers of gravity tonight are Livingston Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish, and our main lines of operation are sheltering and feeding about 10,000 people for at least the next week. We’re deploying the military equivalent of a brigade to Louisiana. Our efforts in the field are led by our Red Cross Coordinating Officer, Becky McCorry, and Director of Disaster Relief Operations, Dave Gutierrez. As of tonight, we have:
· Nearly 400 staff assigned to Louisiana and nearly 500 event-based volunteers offering to help.
· Over 500 Red Crossers traveling to Louisiana from all over the country on Monday and Tuesday, so I expect to have at least 1,500 Red Crossers working on the operation by the end of the week.
· 60 Emergency Response Vehicles either on scene, en route, or preparing to deploy in the next 48 hours—another 20 are on standby
· Nearly 40,000 shelf-stable meals, and over two dozen shelter and kitchen support trailers in or on the way to Louisiana.
· A team of 10-15 Islamic Relief USA volunteers slated to arrive on Tuesday & Wednesday.
· Teams from Children’s Disaster Services (Church of the Brethren) and Save the Children en route to support shelter operations.
· At least 4 NCCC teams headed in on Tuesday to support damage assessment and shelter operations.
· Volunteers from the Church of Latter Day Saints arriving at DRO HQ Monday morning.
Additionally, many of our best leaders from across the country are deploying to Louisiana:
· SEC DVP Anna Trefethen and SEC Division Director for External Relations Kay Wilkins arrived in Louisiana this afternoon to support the relief operation.
· 9 REs and EDs are deploying to form a network of ARC-to-Parish Liaisons to support Louisiana RE Joshua Joachim
· 5 Division Disaster Executives and at least 7 Division Disaster Directors and Division Disaster State Relations Directors have deployed to assume critical leadership roles
· 3 Disaster Response Management Teams (Pacific, Crossroads/NCD combined, and Mid-Atlantic) are deployed to lead District operations and fill critical mass care management roles
· Rev. Taylor from NAACP is embedded in relief operation and presently leading Community Partnerships
· Shari Myers, Terry Freeman, and Eleanor Guzik are deploying from various locations to lead our disability integration efforts
We’re also standing up a major call center to answer the hundreds of calls pouring into the Louisiana Region—our DDEs are working with the Regions to recruit volunteers for this vital, virtual assignment.
It’s difficult to get your arms around numbers like 10,000 people in shelters—and we really don’t know the extent of the damage, yet, but we’re anticipating more than 10,000 homes destroyed or with major damage impacting at least 40,000 people. As I said, it’s too early to tell, but those are our minimum planning assumptions tonight. I encourage you to check out this website so that you can get a better sense of what we’re really dealing with: http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rou...5381451c0.html
While it may be too early to fully assess the damage, it’s not too early to realize the considerable scope and magnitude of this historic disaster—we expect to be conducting active relief operations in Louisiana for at least 6-8 weeks. Further complicating operations is the fact that we’re approaching the peak period of major hurricane season, so we’ve got to remain ready for hurricanes and other events (for example, we have a substantial wildfire with evacuations in the thousands in Lake County, California tonight). That’s why we’ve volunteer Job Director Marita Wenner to form a National Hurricane Leadership Team, and asked Crossroads Division Disaster Executive Keith Alvey and Mid-Atlantic Division Disaster Executive Scott Graham to remain in a ready reserve posture. As bad as Louisiana is, we just don’t know what else Mother Nature has in store for us over the next few weeks.
Harvey Johnson has established the DCS Mission Direction as: “Enable the Workforce to Deliver Our Mission with Compassion and Quality to More of Those in Need.” Louisiana will provide all of us ample opportunity to do just that.
Thanks to everyone who worked tirelessly this weekend and to those who are traveling late tonight and early on Monday to help the people of Louisiana. And a very special thanks to Sharon Panuska, NSS-FROST (Field Remote Operations Support Team) lead for DR 063-17: it was the determined work of Sharon and her team that helped us understand and react in a timely way to these devastating floods.
(Much) More to follow,
Brad J. Kieserman | Vice President, Disaster Operations & Logistics | Disaster Cycle Services | American Red Cross National Headquarters
8550 Arlington Blvd | Fairfax, VA 22031 | Mobile 202-213-0129 | firstname.lastname@example.org
All scheduling and Executive Assistant (Debra) 202-531-3659| email@example.com
INFORMATION UPDATE: Louisiana and Southeast Flooding
August 14, 2016 at 3:30 PM ET
Disaster Update and Red Cross Response
Louisiana and Southeast Flooding
The American Red Cross is helping at least 4,700 people in dozens of emergency shelters in Louisiana after unprecedented flooding has left 15 rivers in record flood stage.
“This is an extremely chaotic situation right now, with life-threatening flood waters, power outages and road closures complicating relief efforts – as many local volunteers have also been directly affected by the flooding,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “This is by far our largest sheltering effort in Louisiana since Hurricane Isaac, and the bulk of this staggering devastation is in areas that typically don’t experience flooding. The Red Cross is mobilizing a massive relief effort which could be our largest since Hurricane Sandy.”
Thousands of people have been forced from their homes with little but the clothes on their backs. Red Cross disaster volunteers are opening shelters, providing meals and comfort. Additional volunteers, relief supplies and emergency response vehicles are moving toward Louisiana now to bolster response efforts. Officials estimate at least 2,700 homes have been affected – and this number is expected to grow. Many of the affected neighborhoods are areas that typically don’t experience flooding.
“Our work is just beginning, and we will be on the ground for weeks helping people in Louisiana pick up the pieces,” continued Kieserman. “Entire families have lost their homes and everything they own, please join the Red Cross in supporting Louisiana by making a much needed financial donation today.”
Flooding is expected to continue for several days, and once waters recede it will take some time to fully uncover the extent of the devastation. The Red Cross will be working closely partners in the days ahead to ensure people receive the help they need as quickly as possible.
Flooding is also threatening communities in Mississippi, where Red Cross volunteers provided safe refuge to nearly 70 people Saturday night.
Flooding Safety Tips
Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. Below and available on RedCross.org/prepare are a few steps people should follow to remain safe during a flood:
· Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and heed evacuation orders when given. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
· Stay away from floodwaters.
· If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
· Keep children out of the water.
· Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Red Cross Emergency App
The Red Cross encourages everyone, especially those in at-risk areas, to re-visit their family’s emergency plan and review preparedness information for various disasters at RedCross.org/prepare. People in the path of wildfires or floods are also encouraged to download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations available on their mobile device. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to RedCross.org/apps.
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