Red Cross Sends Help to Southern States Slammed By Deadly Storms

As Southern states in the U.S. emerge from a violent barrage of tornados and other severe storms, the American Red Cross has deployed teams of volunteers to provide food and shelter for the untold number of people displaced.

The Red Cross has 40 emergency vehicles en route to hard-hit states like Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. Volunteers are to bring clean-and-comfort kits and 25,000 ready-to-eat meals, Gloria Huang, an American Red Cross spokeswoman, said.

The teams will consist of nurses and counselors who will bring blood supplies to area hospitals to make sure the hospitals can meet the demand.

The Red Cross will assist these states in running shelters for residents with destroyed homes. At this point, there are shelters in Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi. There were 1,680 people in the shelters on Wednesday night.

There are about 700 American Red Cross units across the country that can quickly respond to emergencies. Emergency calls come in to its Washington, D.C., office, which deploys the teams.

In one instance, a five-person medical team was dispatched from Indianapolis to Jackson, Miss., Anne Gregson, a spokeswomen from the Indianapolis unit, told These groups work with local chapters.

At least 280 people were killed across six states – Alabama had large cities with half-mile-wide scars left by the twisters.

Residents were told the tornadoes were coming up to 24 minutes ahead of time, but the storms' size, power and path through populated areas made a high death toll inevitable.

The greatest death toll was in Alabama, where there have been nearly 200 confirmed dead, while the search and rescue continues. Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency and mobilized 1,400 National Guardsmen.

Alabama is focused on the rescue, but the governor’s office has been bombarded with organizations and charities looking to make donations, Leah Garner, a spokeswoman for Bentley, said.

Next door in Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency on Wednesday. Places like Monroe County saw the worst of the storms. There had been 32 confirmed deaths and there is currently a search and rescue under way, Brett Carr, a spokesman from the Mississippi Emergency Management office.  He said there were numerous injuries around Mississippi State University.

The state opened the First Baptist Church in Amory as a shelter.

In Tennessee, there were 18 shelters available for those displaced. So far, 233 people have sought refuge. There were 34 confirmed deaths and 107 injuries  reported. Tennessee has a Facebook page where it is keeping residents informed of developments.

The northeast and southeast sections of the state were most damaged, Melissa McDonald, a spokeswoman from the Tennessee Emergency Service said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.