USA: Red Cross shelters provide safe haven as Dennis makes landfall

Written by Matt Rosenberg , Special to

With Hurricane Dennis packing winds approaching 140 miles per hour as it strikes Sunday afternoon, the American Red Cross has launched a massive disaster response to assist families impacted by the hurricane across the Gulf Coast.

The Red Cross has opened more than 150 shelters in safe locations across the Gulf Coast of the United States. Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers have been mobilized to assist hurricane victims in wake of the severe storm barreling towards the coast.

Overnight, the American Red Cross provided a safe place to stay for approximately 3,000 people in Red Cross shelters spanning from Florida to Louisiana. According to emergency management officials, more than 1.4 million people have been asked to evacuate, and the Red Cross expects to provide a safe and warm place for tens of thousands evacuees.

Following a path similar to last season's Hurricane Ivan, warnings for the hurricane are in effect from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. Hurricane Dennis is likely to impact many of the same people as the eye of the storm makes landfall between Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach.

Hurricane Dennis is still an extremely dangerous Category 3 storm, having dropped from a Category 4 as it approached the U.S., and forecasters anticipate the storm surge could be 12 to 18 feet. Rainfall amounts of four to eight inches are forecast for the Florida Panhandle, southern Alabama and southern Mississippi.

Along with any hurricane comes the possibility of flooding, power outages, heavy winds and tornadoes. Residents should listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest information from local officials.

The projected path of Hurricane Dennis will take it into central Mississippi as it heads north and moves into the Midwest. Over the next several days, Dennis will drop considerable rainfall and high winds as it moves north. Communities that are further inland should be prepared to evacuate in case of quickly rising waters.

This is the first time in recorded history that four storms have reached tropical storm status so early in the year, starting with Arlene, Brett and Cindy, and now Dennis.

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 Hurricane Dennis 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


American Red Cross
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.