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Isaac pounds the Gulf Coast: How to help

By Natalie Angley, CNN
updated 5:34 PM EDT, Thu August 30, 2012
Rescue workers transport residents trapped by rising water from Tropical Storm Isaac in LaPlace, Louisiana, on Wednesday. The storm was later downgraded to a Tropical Depression.
Rescue workers transport residents trapped by rising water from Tropical Storm Isaac in LaPlace, Louisiana, on Wednesday. The storm was later downgraded to a Tropical Depression.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tropical Depression Isaac has dumped up to 20 inches of rain in some areas
  • Close to a million people are without power in four states
  • Relief organizations are on the ground, and there are ways you can help

(CNN) -- Residents along the Gulf Coast continue to get pounded by heavy winds and unrelenting rain from Tropical Depression Isaac, an eerie reminder of Hurricane Katrina, which pummeled the Gulf Coast seven years ago.

Hurricane safety when the lights go out

Relief organizations are on the ground, providing food and shelter for those displaced from their homes.

"We're still very much in the middle of a major storm," said Daphne Hart, a Red Cross spokeswoman. "The flooding is a huge concern."

The Red Cross has deployed 2,400 disaster workers from Florida to Texas. On Wednesday night, more than 4,700 people spent the night in one of 80 shelters open across seven states.

"We have nearly 200 emergency response vehicles that have been prepositioned in safe areas along the Gulf Coast," Hart said. "And as soon as it's safe to do so, those vehicles as well as disaster assessment teams will be canvassing the area, trying to determine what the needs are.

"It could be anything from serving people hot meals as they're in their home trying to clean up, distributing clean-up kits with items such as rakes, shovels, gloves and trash bags, and just trying to get people back on their feet."

To assist the Red Cross in its efforts, you can donate by visiting the website, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

If you or a loved one are in one of the affected areas, you can also let people know you are safe by registering on the Red Cross' Safe and Well page.

The Salvation Army is building up emergency response teams and supplies in affected areas along the Gulf Coast. It has 24 mobile feeding units and a 54-foot field kitchen that can provide up to 31,000 meals.

The organization has already provided 3,000 meals, 20,000 drinks and counseling to those in need.

Keep a hurricane preparation checklist

Along with providing food and water for storm victims, the Salvation Army will be on hand to assist in long-term recovery.

"Once the storm passes, folks are going to need to get back into their homes. They're going to need to start the long journey of repairing and replacing the damage that's been done by the storm," said Maj. Terry Ray, Mississippi Gulf Coast area commander. "The Salvation Army comes in with cleaning kits and supplies.

"During that time, the Salvation Army mobile kitchens will continue to roll out. We'll do it as long as people need us. We will continue to feed and roll out cleaning supplies and materials so people can get back to where they were before the disaster hit."

If you would like to help those affected by this disaster, you can visit the website, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or text the word "STORM" to 80888 to make a $10 donation that will show up on your next phone bill.

Operation Blessing International is assessing the damage in Plaquemines Parish and will be serving hot meals to people in St. Bernard Parish.

Their mobile command center includes a mobile kitchen, two construction trailers full of equipment, and tools and clean-up supplies for more than 100 volunteers.

The organization will be asking for volunteers once the storm passes to aid in relief efforts including debris removal and roof repair.

If you would like to volunteer, visit the website or call 757-374-0944 for more information.

AmeriCares has delivered family emergency kits and cleaning supplies to Mississippi families affected by the storm. The relief supplies include household cleaning kits, mops and family emergency kits, which contain tote bags stocked with soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and other personal care items.

The kits are being distributed by the Salvation Army in Gulfport.

To help AmeriCares with its disaster response, visit the website to make a donation or sign up to be a volunteer.

Direct Relief International has distributed ready-to-use hurricane preparedness packs to 20 clinics in the path of the storm. The packs contain enough medicine and medical supplies to treat up to 100 people for three to five days.

Its Emergency Response Team is closely monitoring the storm, and more than 85 health clinics in five states have been contacted about their medical supply needs.

Visit the website to assist in relief efforts.

Links, tips and resources for hurricane preparation

Operation USA is providing emergency aid to the New Orleans area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The organization is assessing shelter, food, clothing and other needs.

To help, visit the website, call 1-800-678-7255 or text "AID" to 50555 to donate $10 to disaster relief efforts.

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