PINELLAS COUNTY - The state's county-by-county report from the 12 hardest hit by Hurricane Charley showed the death toll attributed to the storm at 18 as of 4:02 p.m. Tuesday. The state's shelter population added up to 1,945.
According to the Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA), as of 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, about 774,000 households were still without power.
Marsha J. Evans, Red Cross president and CEO, surveyed the damage and met with Red Cross volunteers on Tuesday.
"We are worried about the health effects of people without air conditioning, drinkable water or proper nutrition," she said in a release.
The Red Cross reported on Tuesday that it is focusing its efforts on providing safety and shelter for the homeless, as well as providing food and dry clothing to the "tens of thousands" in need. The Red Cross will also be providing clean-up kits and other relief supplies.
FEMA reported in a release on Tuesday that shipments, staging and distribution of water, ice, and generators were continuing throughout the disaster areas. The release states that infant formula, baby cereal, fruits, vegetables, and meat were arriving. An airlift of 80 tractor-trailer loads carrying 180,000 gallons of water was scheduled to arrive at Lakeland Airport Tuesday. Beginning Wednesday, August 18, 40 tractor-trailer loads carrying 90,000 gallons of purified water will arrive daily to support affected areas.
FEMA also reported that registrations for federal disaster aid were coming in at the rate of 2,000 an hour. As of Monday evening, 23,535 persons had signed up.
How to help
People throughout the United States and the state are mobilizing to send assistance to those in need. Pinellas County residents also are doing their part. This online edition is filled with stories about local citizen's organizing to help. Stories can be found in the Pinellas County section, as well as in the Beach Beacon. More stories will be posted tomorrow and the coming days. People with information about local efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Charley can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are advising people that giving money to a known disaster relief organization is the best way to help. FEMA says that people should avoid sending material goods, such as used clothing, food, water and medical supplies without first coordinating with a known support agency.
To donate to the American Red Cross by phone, call (800) HELP-NOW (800) 435-7669, or with credit card, call (813) 348-4820, ext 860. To donate by mail, send check or money order to: American Red Cross, Tampa Bay Chapter, 3310 West Main, Tampa, FL 33607-4221.
Disasters bring out the best in people, unfortunately, they also often bring out the worst. Officials are warning of fake relief organizations that often solicit for money with no intent of helping the victims of a disaster. According to a release from Charles H. Bronson, state Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner, people should call the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services hotline at (800) HELPFLA (435-7352) if they have any question about donating money to a particular agency.
Bronson warns "bogus charities will prey" on the public, "supposedly seeking funds for storm victims but pocketing the money instead." He urges people to make sure that charitable solicitors are properly registered with the state before donating any money.