Before the severe weather started yesterday evening, Red Cross disaster workers from Wilmington, NC headed to the northern part of the state to assist with preparedness efforts for Hurricane Sandy. Response Manager, Victoria Kling and Lead Disaster Services Technology Volunteer, Chris Nienow, loaded up a trailer with supplies, including a VSAT, and made their way to Elizabeth City, NC.
A VSAT (short for very small aperture terminal) is an earthbound station used in satellite communications of data, voice and video signals. These satellites are strategically located at 40 Red Cross chapters in hurricane risk areas from Texas to New York. Using these devices, a chapter in an area where the infrastructure has been affected can reestablish communications to share vital information with other Red Cross units. Each site represents approximately $65,000 in technology investment.
The VSAT, typically housed at the Cape Fear Chapter in Wilmington, was transported to the Greater Albemarle Area Chapter in Elizabeth City where flooding and power outages are expected. Disaster volunteers assembled the satellite equipment in the chapter office which will now have a communications infrastructure in place to support the response operation even if cable and telephone lines are knocked out.
The American Red Cross Eastern NC Region has mobilized hundreds of volunteers along with vehicles and supplies in preparation of and in response to Hurricane Sandy. Trained Red Cross disaster volunteers stand ready to feed, shelter and provide supplies as well as provide comfort and emotional support to residents along the east coast. Relief supplies like cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals and snacks have been moved into place to support response efforts.
Weather experts predict the massive storm could affect residents up and down the eastern region of the United States for several days and the Red Cross is working with government officials and community partners to coordinate a wide-ranging response. Sandy is expected to bring as much as ten inches of rain and flooding in some areas, winds gusting up to 80 miles per hour, extended power outages and even several feet of snow in the higher elevations.
BE READY The Red Cross has information on its website about how to get prepared for the storm, including steps for hurricane and power outage emergencies. Videos are also available to help 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 provides real-time hurricane safety information such as weather alerts and where Red Cross shelters are located. The app also features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm, and the one-touch “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media sites to tell family and friends they are okay.
The Hurricane App can be downloaded in Spanish by changing the language setting on someone’s smart phone to Spanish before downloading. The First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in someone’s hand. The apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
HOW TO HELP To help people affected by disasters like this, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. 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 your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The Red Cross is moving shipments of blood products to hospitals along the coast in advance of the storm as patients will still need blood and platelets despite the weather. Sandy could affect the turn-out at Red Cross blood drives. 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 donation time or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 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.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.