The Gateway Area American Red Cross and Clinton County Emergency Management Agency are urging residents to begin preparing for the upcoming storm season after the recent tornadoes that have already hit in the Midwest and South.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad spoke Monday at his weekly news conference, saying advance planning is vital and people should pay attention to news reports about looming storms. He also says each family should have a plan of what they are going to do when bad weather hits. That includes places they can go if their home is struck.

He called for people to put together an emergency kit with items like food, water and first-aid supplies.

During March, the American Red Cross is asking everyone to help people in need by supporting the lifesaving services it provides and to be prepared for natural disasters, especially tornadoes, this time of year. March is Red Cross Month, first proclaimed in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since that time, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month. The American Red Cross is synonymous with helping people and has been doing so for more than 130 years.

“Please remember those who need our help and support the Red Cross by making a donation, becoming a volunteer, taking a class, or giving blood,” said Amber Wood, executive director of the Gateway Area Chapter. “We want to thank everyone for their generosity, which has enabled us to help people here at home, across the United States, and around the world.”

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year in this country, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. It provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families — in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world; collects and distributes more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and trains more than 9 million people in first-aid, water safety and other lifesaving skills every year.

In Clinton and Jackson counties in Iowa and western Whiteside County in Illinois, the Gateway Area Chapter responded to 37 local emergencies, assisted 51 military families and trained 2,847 people in lifesaving skills. In addition, people from this area donated 2,434 units of blood.

“Red Cross Month is a great time for people to support our mission,” Wood said. “Their kindness will enable us to continue our work, both here at home and across the globe.”

The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on donations of time, money and blood to do its work.

An average of 91 cents of every dollar given to the Red Cross is invested in helping the people the Red Cross services.

Gateway Area Chapter has a number of activities planned for Red Cross Month, including outreach to city and county governments in the area to help proclaim March as Red Cross Month — as well as the eighth annual luau to raise much needed funding to support their mission locally and beyond.

For more information, visit or call 242-5223.

The Red Cross provides information on preparing for tornadoes at the web site Citizens should be aware of their community’s warning system, pick a safe room, practice tornado drills, secure lawn furniture and have an emergency kit prepared, according to Red Cross officials.

Through the “20 weeks of Preparedness,” the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency is helping families prepare an emergency kit. The program brought to citizens by the Region 6 Homeland Security Board and Safeguard Iowa Partnership is intended to help families, a little at a time, over a 20-week period. Each week, new preparedness information will be shared including a list of items to gather or purchase for a disaster supply kit. Sign up at to receive weekly reminders and announcements related to the program.

For additional assistance contact Plans Officer Jennifer Paukner at 242-5712 or visit the agency’s website or For more information on the Safeguard Iowa Partnership visit

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