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South Florida Red Cross chapter on standby to aid tornado victims

Volunteers with the American Red Cross chapter in South Florida are on standby to help victims of the devastating tornadoes in the South, a spokesman said Thursday.

The Red Cross has been providing shelter and other aid to people in the hardest-hit states. On Wednesday, tornadoes and violent storms ripped through seven southern U.S. states, killing more than 200 people.

As more help is needed, volunteers from South Florida may be called upon to travel to the ravaged region, said Chrystian Tejedor, a South Florida Red Cross spokesman. Meanwhile, the organization is gathering donations online, via text messages and accepting phone calls.

Additionally, group members are making "a big appeal" to people at a corporate run in Miami on Thursday, Tejedor said. "We're trying to spread the word that these storms are happening," Tejedor said.

Florida Power & Light Co. also is assisting.

FPL so far has dispatched about 200 workers to Alabama to help restore power in the affected areas, said spokesman Mark Bubriski.

"The line crews and their trucks left this morning for the Birmingham area," Bubriski said Thursday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by these terrible storms, and we are fortunate to be able to help in the restoration effort."

More than 1,680 people spent Wednesday night in Red Cross shelters in nine states. Red Cross shelters were open in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas, group officials said.

More than 40 emergency-response vehicles also were headed to Alabama to help with mobile feeding and distributing cleanup and comfort kits throughout the area, along with 25,000 ready-to-eat meals.

Donations can be made to the Red Cross by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, visiting or sending a text message to REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.