What is the Red Cross doing as the East Coast of our country is getting ready for recovery from hurricane Irene?
As you know, millions of people have been and are currently being affected by Hurricane Irene. On the first evening Friday 8/26, we operated or supported nearly 150 shelters with more than 13,000 residents and we are prepared to open and support dozens more shelters up and down the East Coast as the storm progresses.
To see the location of our shelters, you can go to www.redcross.org and check the shelter map. You can also download our new Red Cross shelter app (iTunes link) for iPhone. Over the last few days more than 2,500 people downloaded the shelter app!
The full force of The Red Cross is being utilized in response to this Disaster which means thousands of trained disaster workers are helping people up and down the East coast. At least 40 of those volunteers are from our local Greater Ozarks Region.
As relief operations have been launched in more than a dozen coastal states, more than 200 feeding vehicles – or two thirds of our entire fleet – are positioned along the East Coast. Our Emergency Response Vehicles are on alert to be deployed as well. Tens of thousands of prepackaged meals have been moved into the area and we are working with our partners to make sure that we have kitchens positioned in the right place after the storm moves through.
We have begun shipping additional cots and shelter trailers (which contain supplies to open shelters such as comfort kits – shampoo, tooth brushes, soap and other toiletry supplies) as well.
The Red Cross is working closely with government agencies and partners to identify risks in states with sheltering and mass care planning. Volunteers from partner organizations like AmeriCorps NCCC, Southern Baptist Convention and Islamic Relief USA are positioned alongside Red Cross workers in some areas.
What can you do?
Monetary donations are a great way to support the mission and response of the Red Cross. All of the services that we noted previously are happening with the support of the people. Your donation makes it possible for the response to be “full force” and wide spread. To make a donation go to Redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
If you would like to volunteer, call the 800 number mentioned above (at extension 200) or visit VolunteerRedCross.org. We will be offering training courses in the next few weeks at the local office in Springfield. As a new volunteer, you would not be able to deploy immediately however it is possible you could, upon completing training, be sent in a second-round response.
It is also imperative that if you are able to donate blood during times of disaster that you take the opportunity to give. During a disaster, it may become impossible for large numbers of regular donors to get to a location to make donations.
“Nationwide, around 44,000 blood donations are needed each and every day to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients, and children with blood disorders. These patients and others rely on blood products during their treatment. When disaster strikes, this need does not diminish, even though blood donors may find it difficult or impossible to get to a convenient donation opportunity. If collections are negatively impacted by a disaster, the long-term needs of these patients could also be affected.”
In addition to the emergencies across the country, we also continue our response to the flooding in Missouri. Just this morning volunteers from the Greater Ozarks Region deployed to St Joseph, MO to join the staff and volunteers there responding to the flooding.
Thank you for helping your local Red Cross meet the needs of our neighbors near and far.
Nigel – Red Cross Volunteer