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Red Cross preparing for flooding while serving tornado victims

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — With the Mississippi River rising, the American Red Cross is ramping up to help people along the river as efforts continue to assist thousands of people in tornado-ravaged communities across the South.

The Red Cross estimates the costs of its responses to the April tornadoes, flooding and other disasters since March 31 could reach $31 million—with the response to the Mississippi River flooding expected to drive relief expenses even higher. As of May 5, the Red Cross had raised about $16 million for disaster response since March 31.

These disaster costs are in addition to the approximately $378 million that the Red Cross must raise annually to respond to more than 65,000 disasters each year.

“We’re gearing up to respond to major flooding along the Mississippi River,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “Red Cross workers and supplies are already on the way there, even as we continue to provide for the people affected by the tornadoes.”

The Red Cross is preparing to launch a prolonged shelter and feeding operation for people living along the Mississippi, sending in leadership teams, calling down disaster workers and pre-positioning thousands of cots, blankets and other relief supplies. More than 400 Red Cross workers already are in Memphis to support efforts there and in other nearby communities. Experts are warning that floodwaters could remain in areas for as long as two weeks, forcing people to stay in shelters for more than a month.

Meanwhile, more than 6,000 Red Cross workers are providing meals, shelter, hygiene and cleanup supplies and health and mental health services to people affected by the recent tornadoes.

The Red Cross has launched 20 separate relief operations over more than half of the United States since March 31, responding to disasters from North Dakota to the East Coast and all throughout the South. Since the end of March, the Red Cross has opened more than 170 shelters and provided more than 13,000 overnight stays, serving more than 1.2 million meals and snacks to people affected by wildfires, flooding and tornadoes.

The Red Cross urges people living in and around the Mississippi River to get prepared now.

Source: American Red Cross

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