Red Cross Responds After Tornadoes Touch Down in Alabama

Washington  (  For the second time in less than a year, the American Red Cross is opening shelters and mobilizing volunteers and feeding trucks after tornadoes touched down overnight across several states. Areas of Alabama reported significant widespread damage in some of the same areas that sustained damaged in last April’s deadly tornado outbreak.

In Alabama, homes are damaged or destroyed, power knocked out and roads impassable, blocked with debris. In addition to opening shelters, Red Cross damage assessment teams are fanning out in affected areas to help determine what help people will need in the coming days. Mental health workers are also being mobilized to assist people affected by the storm.

Tornadoes also affected residents of Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Mississippi.

“Our first priority is making sure people have a place to go and warm food to eat,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “While we ramp up our support in Alabama, it’s important to note that Red Cross disaster teams are also busy helping people affected by the heavy snow and flooding in the Pacific Northwest and several large fires.”

How to prepare for a tornado:

Spring is the time of year known for dangerous tornado activity in the United States, but tornadoes can form at any time of the year. The Red Cross has safety tips people can use should a tornado hit their neighborhood.

A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area and be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or someone suspects a tornado is approaching. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar. People should immediately go underground to a basement, storm cellar or interior room of the house.

Additional things to remember if a tornado warning is issued:

  • Go to an underground shelter or safe room if available. A hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is also a safe alternative.
  • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. If there is access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, get out of the mobile home immediately and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter.
  • If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
  • If unable to walk to a shelter quickly, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle the seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
    • If debris is flying while driving, pull over and park. Stay in the car with the seat belt on, head down below the windows and covered with hands and a blanket if possible.
    • If it is possible to get safely to an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of the car and lie in that area. A person’s choice should be driven by specific circumstances.

For more information on what to do before, during and after a tornado, visit

If someone would like to help people affected by disasters like these tornadoes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, they can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Their gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to their local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at