Planning for Isaac’s landfall, seven years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina

Published: 29 August 2012 13:37 CET

The American Red Cross has launched a major disaster response operation that could last for weeks across multiple states along the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Isaac makes landfall, affecting millions of lives with strong winds, heavy rain, flooding and coastal surges.

Almost 2,400 disaster workers from the organization are in the region, opening evacuation shelters and providing relief supplies for those affected by Isaac in several states along the Gulf. Last night, nearly 800 people stayed in 52 shelters in five states. More shelters could open today.

Nearly 190 American Red Cross emergency response vehicles – almost 80 percent of the entire fleet – have been deployed or put on alert to help. 290,000 ready-to-eat meals are pre-positioned to move into the area after the storm passes. Mobile kitchens and kitchen support trailers have already been deployed and kitchen and feeding efforts are being coordinated with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization. Trailers of relief supplies such as personal hygiene items, cots, blankets, coolers, shovels, rakes, tarps, gloves and masks are in place and ready for distribution should they be needed.

With Isaac poised to make travel in land through the same areas of the Gulf Coast struck by Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, the American Red Cross has also published a series of tips for families and individuals in the region that may experience anxiety about the storm and anniversary.

“The combination of the approaching storm and Katrina anniversary will likely cause increased fear and unease for residents in New Orleans and along coastal communities as people relive difficult emotions,” said Rob Yin, manager of disaster mental health. “It’s important that people remember to take care of themselves and make appropriate disaster preparations to stay safe which can also help to reduce stress.

He said it was vital to reach out and ask for help if help was needed.