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Washington, U.S.A. — The American Red Cross is responding across multiple states as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast. The large and powerful storm could affect as many as 60 million people in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and the Red Cross has workers and relief supplies in place to provide help to people in the path of Sandy.
The effects of the storm are already being felt with 128 people spending Saturday night in Red Cross shelters in North Carolina and Virginia. Red Cross workers are preparing to open and support more shelters today as the storm moves northward.
“This storm is dangerous and it’s critical to follow the advice of local emergency officials. If people are told to evacuate, they need to do it,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. “The Red Cross has shelters open and will be opening more throughout the day. Hundreds of disaster workers are ready with relief supplies and emergency vehicles in place to help.”
To find a shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, or check local media outlets. They should also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit www.redcross.org. This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.
Almost 100 Red Cross emergency vehicles are mobilizing to distribute meals and relief supplies after the storm passes. Thousands of ready-to-eat meals and relief supplies such as cots and blankets are also being sent into the region.
How to help: ”This will be a large, costly relief response and we need help now,” Shimanski said. “People can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief online, by text or by phone.”
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, 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, DC20013.
Please Give Blood: The storm has already caused the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in the region, and more cancellations are expected. This has resulted in the loss of several hundred units of blood and platelets so far. The Red Cross has shipped blood products to hospitals in the affected area in advance of the storm as patients will still need blood and platelets despite the weather. If anyone is eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, they are asked to please schedule a blood donation now.
To schedule a blood donation or get more information about giving blood, people can visitredcrossblood.org. To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health.
Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.
Last Days to get Ready: The Red Cross urges everyone to make their final storm preparations today. Sandy is expected to have a huge impact in the Mid-Atlantic region, stretching north to New England and toward the Midwest. Millions of people could lose power for several days. Gale force winds are expected, accompanied by several inches of rain throughout the storm. Flooding could occur as far west as parts of Ohio. In areas like West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina, several feet of snow could occur.
Important information about how to get ready for the storm – steps to take for emergencies like flooding, power outages, even winter weather- is available on the Red Cross web site. Videos are also available to help people get prepared, including information on severe weather preparedness and how to get ready for winter weather.
Red Cross Apps: People should download the free Red Cross Hurricane and First Aid apps for mobile devices to have emergency information at their fingertips. The Hurricane App keeps people up to date on the situation with weather alerts, locations of Red Cross shelters, and features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm.
The “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media sites to tell family and friends they are okay. And it’s available in Spanish by changing the language setting on someone’s smart phone to Spanish before downloading. The First Aid app includes expert advice for everyday emergencies. The apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
Image Courtesy of Barry Bahler (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons