The American Red Cross El Paso is increasing its relief operation to support at least three emergency shelters and possible outreach to flooded neighborhoods throughout El Paso. Those wishing to help as volunteers are encouraged to apply online and will receive instructions for completing initial shelter training. Volunteers should go to www.redcross.org/tx/el-paso/volunteer to set up an account in Volunteer Connection and complete the online orientation. A Red Cross representative will then contact the volunteer for training instructions.
Residents in Socorro, San Elizario and Vinton have experienced extremely heavy rain and flash flooding, so emergency shelters are open at the Socorro High School, 10150 Alameda Road, San Elizario High School, 13981 Socorro Road, and West Valley Fire Station, 510 Vinton Road. The American Red Cross El Paso is supporting the shelters with workers, cots, blankets and other supplies to help those needing assistance. Additional shelter locations are being considered as rain continues throughout the area. The Salvation Army is preparing meals for those who will need food during this flooding emergency.
“Our thoughts are with those who have already suffered damages from these flash floods, and we hope to provide at least a little comfort and a safe, dry place for families to stay until the rain stops and the water recedes,” said Mark Matthys, Executive Director, American Red Cross El Paso.
American Red Cross urges residents to take steps now to stay safe when floods threaten. “It’s difficult to imagine flooding in the desert, but besides fires, flash flooding is the greatest disaster risk we face,” said Matthys. “A few inches of rain in a few hours can force people to flee their homes and leave them stranded.”
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for floods by:
- Creating and practicing a Flood Plan: Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a flood occurs. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of flooding. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. Be prepared to evacuate your family and pets at a moment’s notice. Listen to area radio and television stations for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress.
- Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents and other emergency items for the whole family.
- Heeding Flood Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information. A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A flood WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning in issued for you area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Relocating During Flood Warnings: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. 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.
For more information on flood preparedness, contact the El Paso Area Chapter of the American Red Cross at 915-592-0208, visit www.redcross.org or www.cruzrojaamericana.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS. We urge you to share these Red Cross flood preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.