Louisiana floods have left 15 rivers in record flood stage. The federal government declared a major disaster in Louisiana Sunday after torrential rain caused at least six deaths.
The American Red Cross is helping at least 4,700 people in dozens of emergency shelters.
"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.
"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 with 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.
HOW TO HELP To help people affected by the Louisiana Floods, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
FLOODING SAFETY INFORMATION The Red Cross has steps people should follow to remain safe:
1. 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.
2. Stay away from floodwaters.
3. 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.
4. Keep children out of the water.
5. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.