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Gulf Residents Evacuate As Rita Approaches

Gulf Residents Evacuate As Rita Approaches

Written by Lesly C. Simmons , Staff Writer, RedCross.org

Already described as a “monster” storm, Hurricane Rita reached Category 5 status Wednesday and became the 3rd most intense storm on record in the United States. It is still on track to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast in Texas by Saturday.

Coastal communities all along the Gulf Coast have issued mandatory evacuation orders for their residents, meaning more than 1 million people will be forced from the area yet again, particularly in Texas and Louisiana.

Unless the storm weakens, it may get even stronger than its current 165 mph winds, with higher gusts.

As the Gulf Coast prepares for Rita’s second landfall, Miami and the Florida Keys are cleaning up from its brush with the storm on Tuesday. The Red Cross housed close to 1,500 residents in four shelters on Tuesday night in the Miami area. Residents emerged this morning to find some flooding due to storm surges, but otherwise minimal damage.

On Wednesday the Red Cross also announced the release of KatrinaSafe.org, a new site for families to trace loved ones, or for storm evacuees to list their whereabouts. The site is also a place to track down those impacted by other hurricanes including Rita.

Hurricane Katrina reinforced how important it is for people to prepare a disaster supplies kit, develop an evacuation plan, and have a communication plan in place in advance of Rita. Now is the time to prepare. Use our Evacuation Checklist to help plan your course of action ahead of the next storm that may head your way.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of this disaster and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

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