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Washington, U.S.A. — The American Red Cross is continuing a major relief operation throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to shelter and assist people affected by Superstorm Sandy. Millions awoke this morning to power outages, fallen trees, scattered debris, and flooded neighborhoods and the Red Cross is working hard to get help where it is needed.
Nearly 11,000 people spent Monday night in more than 250 Red Cross shelters across 16 states including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware,Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine,Indiana, and Michigan. These numbers could increase as the storm moves into cities like Chicago,Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee with heavy wind, rain and snow.
“Our first priority is to get people the help they need – providing families and individuals with a safe place to stay and food to eat,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. “While it is too early to know the full extent of Sandy’s damage, we expect to be working with a variety of partners to help people for the next several weeks.”
The Red Cross has mobilized 1,700 disaster workers from all over the country who have served more than 25,000 meals and snacks so far. We have also activated 167 response vehicles and shipped in more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals. This is a huge disaster, bigger than any one organization can handle and the Red Cross is working closely with multiple partners including a variety of civic groups, advocacy organizations, professional organizations and houses of worship to share their expertise and volunteers.
Safety After The Storm
In areas hit by this storm, the Red Cross urges people to check on their neighbors, make sure everyone is okay, and take care of each other until help arrives. Everyone should follow the direction of their local officials during this disaster – evacuate if told to do so, stay in a safe place and off the roads until the storm is over, and do not return home until officials say it is okay.
To find a Red Cross shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check local media outlets. People can let their loved ones know how they are by using the “I’m Safe” button on the Red Cross Hurricane App which can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. People can also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website to let loved ones know they are okay. To register, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
With more than 7 million people without power as of Tuesday morning, residents should take precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones. For those without power, surround food with ice in a cooler or refrigerator to keep food cold for a longer period of time and keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
Use flashlights, not candles. Residents should also turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and any appliances, equipment or electronics that were on when the power went out to avoid damaging them when the power is restored. Finally, eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car as traffic lights will be out and roads congested.
Financial And Blood Donations Needed
“The Red Cross response to Sandy is very large and will be very costly, affecting a massive area spanning much of the eastern half of the country. We need the public’s help now,” said Shimanski.
Financial donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243,Washington, DC 20013.
Approximately 300 Red Cross blood drives have already been cancelled due to the storm, and more are expected. The Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by this storm and asks that people in the affected areas consider donating blood once the storm passes through and it’s safe to do so.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
Image Courtesy of American Red Cross