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Hurricane Irene Draws Closer—Be Prepared


Hurricane Irene—now a strong Category 2 storm—is expected to make landfall in North Carolina on Saturday before making its way up the East Coast, affecting millions of people.

Red Cross Response The American Red Cross has been getting ready all week by preparing shelters, sending in relief supplies, mobilizing hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers and moving more than 200 mobile feeding vehicles—nearly two-thirds of the total fleet—toward the coast.

The Red Cross is sending an initial 60,000 shelf-stable meals to Richmond, Va., and 60,000 to Massachusetts. The Red Cross is also working with the Southern Baptist Convention to open kitchens and serve approximately 250,000 meals per day once the storm passes and it is safe to move trailers into the areas.

Already, more than 600 people stayed in Red Cross shelters Thursday night due to evacuations in North Carolina and Maryland. Dozens of Red Cross shelters are expected to open in North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York today. Additional shelters in other coastal states will open as Irene moves north.

How Residents Can Prepare Get prepared now—the window of time to get ready is swiftly closing. The Red Cross recommends three steps to take now to be prepared for Hurricane Irene and other emergencies—build a kit, make a plan and be informed.

1. Build a Kit. At a minimum, prepare these basic supplies: Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) Flashlight Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAAWeather Radio, if possible) Extra batteries First aid kit Medications (7-day supply) and medical items Sanitation and personal hygiene items Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies) Cell phone with chargers Family and emergency contact information Extra cash Map(s) of the area

2. Make a Plan. Plan what to do if you have to evacuate. Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.

Plan ahead for your pets. Make a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

Find out now where Red Cross shelters are open. This information is available on www.redcross.org by clicking on “Find a Shelter,” and can also be accessed with a free Red Cross iPhone app. Both are refreshed with updated information every 30 minutes. Residents can also listen to local media—radio, newspaper and television—to find out where local shelters are.

During an evacuation:

  • If you are heading to a shelter, bring extra clothing, pillows, blankets, prescriptions and emergency medication, personal hygiene items, and important documents.
  • Don’t forget special items for children and infants, such as diapers, formulas and toys, along with other items for family members who are elderly or disabled.

The secure Red Cross Safe and Well website can help you let friends and family know where you are as Hurricane Irene moves up the coast. Register on Safe and Well by going to redcross.org; you can also call a friend or family member with Internet access and have them register you.

3. Be Informed. Identify how you will get information from local authorities during the hurricane, whether through local radio, TV or NOAAWeather Radio stations.

Listen to local authorities and evacuate if told to do so.

More hurricane preparedness tips can be found on redcross.org. A mobile-friendly version of the Hurricane Safety Checklist is now available for smart phone users to download at www.redcross.org/mobile.

Irene’s Effect on Blood Donations In preparation for Hurricane Irene, the Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations prior to the storm’s arrival.

There is a special need for platelet donors, which have a shelf life of just five days. It is very important to have enough platelets on hand prior to the storm to meet the needs of patients in the affected areas. To schedule a platelet donation, please visit www.redcrossblood.org.

The Red Cross is moving blood products to the areas most likely to be affected by Hurricane Irene so that blood is available both during the storm and after it passes through. If individuals cannot give prior to the storm’s arrival, please consider donating after the storm passes through.

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 visit www.redcrossblood.org.