A new tropical storm’s bearing down on Florida, showing signs of being worse than the hurricane that hit a couple weeks ago. Midwestern Red Cross spokesman Randy Jones says Iowans interested in helping can call a local Red Cross chapter, check a website, write a check…but should hold off on any ideas of heading down to try and offer a hand. He says they sometimes call that “the second disaster,” because relief workers aren’t prepared for it and have to work right now on evacuating millions of Floridians from targeted areas. Jones says unexpected visitors are one of the biggest problems for disaster-relief workers. If they have to find safe housing for all the unplanned arrivals, it can “bottleneck” relief services. Jones adds that it’s not enough to just show up hoping you might be able to do something. Trained Red Cross workers have been in Florida for weeks helping with the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie, and new ones are being trained for Hurricane Frances’ arrival, readied to provide help in shelters and financial assistance. Jones says the nine-state Midwestern region is sending volunteers who’ll arrive trained specifically for this emergency. The Red Cross is gearing up for a response that exceeds anything they’ve done in the past, he says, since Frances is heading for an area hit hard by Hurricane Charlie just a few weeks ago. The Red Cross is advising Iowans who have loved ones in Florida to call them today, find out ahead of time what their plans are and where they’ll go to stay if they evacuate the area…pointing out it’s likely phone lines will be down and once the storm’s hit, they could be left to worry for days about what’s happened to their relatives.
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