Video: Red Cross on Rita

msnbc.com
updated 9/21/2005 8:49:21 PM ET 2005-09-22T00:49:21

The American Red Cross faces another big crisis as volunteers scramble to aid Hurricane Katrina victims and potentially even more from Hurricane Rita as it speeds towards Texas. 

Is the Red Cross ready for the challenge? 

The national spokesman for the American Red Cross, says they are more ready than they were for Katrina.  He talks about the current disaster plan for Texas and safety tips to prepare with MSNBC-TV's Chris Matthews.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Peter, how are you going to deal with all the people rushing away again from New Orleans up to Baton Rouge, which is already packed, rushing
away from Galveston to Houston, which is already packed?  Where are people going to go now?  Where are you taking them? 

PETER TEAHEN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: The Red Cross is opening up shelters now, as we did with Katrina.  We are opening up more shelters, inviting people to seek safe haven outside of the flood zone or the surge zone area.

I was coming down here today, traffic jams of people moving north.  So, they're learning from Katrina.  We hope we don't duplicate what we saw there, where people didn't leave.  Red Cross is really encouraging people right now to call family members, tell them where you're going and when you arrive and making sure that communication is established now, as people are displaced, because we have over 245,000 individuals in hotels and in rooms all over the United States in 46 states. 

And we want people to stay in touch, because that is going to help reduce the stress load of these families.  But Red Cross is opening up shelters.  We are getting ready to provide meals when need to.  That's our two biggest missions, is feeding and shelter.  And we are not going to let the American public down. 

MATTHEWS: How do you get people to leave areas like the one you're standing in right now?

TEAHEN: Well, it's frustrating.  I picked up two individuals who were walking down the street.  And I said, are you evacuating?  And they said, no, we have two kittens we won't leave at home.  And I said, but your life is more important.  And they said, well, we're not going to leave. 

You can coax.  You can talk to them.  Some people won't leave.  And then you just hope that they're prepared.  These folks had two days of water and food and that was it.  And I said, it may be several days before help gets to you.  You have got be better prepared. 

But we are looking at families sometimes who just don't have the financial means.  And that's why we advocate for families to look at how to get people out of here working with the local government. 

Watch 'Hardball' each night at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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