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What to do if your home was damaged or destroyed by Houston-area tornadoes

Recovering from a tornado or other major disaster can be overwhelming but the Red Cross offers tips for homeowners hit hard by Tuesday's storms.

PASADENA, Texas — Hundreds of families all over the Houston area are dealing with major damage from Tuesday's tornadoes that touched down on the southside and in Pasadena, Deer Park and Baytown. 

Many homes in those communities were destroyed but amazingly there were no reports of serious injuries.

Picking up the pieces after a disaster can be overwhelming.

“We are here for you. We know these are tough times. Just know that we are here to assist you in any way possible," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday.

Turner said a representative from the White House reached out Wednesday morning to get an assessment of what we’re dealing with in the region. He said FEMA also contacted him.

Police Chief Troy Finner also had a message for hundreds of apartment residents displaced by the tornadoes. He said officers will be there around the clock to keep looters away.

“I was once in a family that lived check to check and I know there’s some people here that’s living that way," the chief said. "But I want to tell you so you can have some sense of security and a little bit of ease of the stress: We’re gonna be here throughout. The buildings are secure, nobody’s gonna go in and tamper with anything.”

Emergency shelters

The Red Cross is always one of the first agencies with boots on the ground as they work with local leaders to support the needs of hard-hit communities. 

They set up a shelter Tuesday night at the  Baker Ripley Cleveland Campus in Pasadena. It's located at 720 Fairmont Parkway.   

On Wednesday, the Red Cross opened a second emergency shelter at Revive Church, 1062 Fairmont Parkway.

Residents who need help can call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS.

There will be opportunities for you to help tornado victims in the coming days and weeks, but the Red Cross says its first priority is to provide shelter and support. They say donations are the best way you can help right now. 

The money will help:

  • Shelter and feed residents
  • Distribute clean-up supplies such as shovels, rakes, tarps, and work gloves
  • Conduct damage assessment of homes impacted by storms
  • Provide mental health support, including counseling for families impacted by storms and tips on self-care and how to cope with the aftermath
  • Connect loved ones separated after a storm via services like Safe and Well.

The Memorial Baptist Church at 6901 Fairmont Parkway in Pasadena is also providing a place to stay, showers, food and water, donations and clean-up volunteers. For more information contact mbcpconnect@gmail.com or call 903-261-6154 or 281-731-0832.

What to do after a tornado

The Red Cross offers these tips for tornado victims immediately after the storm and in the following days.

  • Let friends and family know you’re safe.
  • If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Continue listening to local news or an NOAA weather radio for updated information and instructions. 
  • Check for injuries. If you are trained, provide first aid to persons in need until emergency responders arrive.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after a tornado.
  • Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and their contents, for insurance purposes.

For more tornado safety tips, https://rdcrss.org/3WL7jMA.

Cleaning and repairing your home

  • Wear protective clothing, including long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes, and be cautious.
  • You may also want to invest in: eye protection; disposable masks and hard hats
  • Open doors and windows. If the house was closed for more than 48 hours, air it out before staying inside for any length of time.
  • Remove any remaining water, large amounts of dirt/mud, damaged items and other trash.
  • Clean hard surfaces throughout your home (flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent. Then disinfect with bleach or a commercial disinfectant 
  • Dry soft surfaces (upholstered furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing) in the open air if possible, before cleaning
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud. When in doubt, throw it out. This includes canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and containers with food or liquid that has been sealed shut.
  • Any appliances that were inundated by flood water should be checked by a professional before you use them.
  • POWER OUTAGE SAFETY: Power outages can be frustrating and troublesome. For prolonged power outages, there are ways that you can minimize loss and keep everyone as comfortable as possible.
  • Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
  • Don’t drive unless necessary. Traffic lights will be out.
  • Turn off and unplug any appliances, equipment and electronics. When the power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.
  • If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.

If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing perishable foods. During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food.

  • Use perishable food from the refrigerator first. Then, use food from the freezer.
  • Perishable food is safe to eat when it has a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • If the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot and cover it at all times.

For more power outage tips, http://bit.ly/3kEfuNc.

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