The American Red Cross is preparing to respond to Hurricane Sandy if needed and urges everyone who may be affected by the storm to take the next few days to get prepared. The storm is swirling through the Caribbean, with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. Computer models show the storm could pose a significant threat to areas along the eastern coast of the country as early as this weekend.
COULD AFFECT MUCH OF THE EAST COAST The storm is expected to weaken in strength, but weather experts say it could combine with a cold front in the east. The combination of the two, the ‘perfect storm’, could produce a strong storm with high winds, flooding, power outages and strong rip currents along the east coast, with the possibility of snow in the higher elevations.
The Red Cross has placed shelter locations and trained disaster workers on alert from Florida to Maine, has emergency response vehicles and supplies ready, and is working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate potential response efforts.
GET READY The eastern coast of Florida is already under watches and warnings because of the storm. As much as three inches or rain could hit the area, and dangerous storm surges could cause flooding. Storm warnings mean tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 24 to 36 hours. Residents of these areas should get ready for the storm now.
People all along the eastern seaboard and areas inland who may be in the path of the storm should take safety steps like keeping up to date on Sandy’s progress, updating family emergency plans, and building or updating their household disaster kits. As the direction of the storm becomes more defined, people should prepare by taking the following steps if they are in Sandy’s path:
RED CROSS HURRICANE APP The free Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices is available and provides real-time hurricane safety information. You can use the app to receive weather alerts and get information on Red Cross shelters. 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 outlets to tell family and friends they are okay. The Hurricane App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross and is available in Spanish. Users just need to make sure the language setting on their smart phone is set to Spanish before downloading the app.
RIP CURRENTS Hurricane Sandy could bring strong winds, high waves and beach erosion to communities along the coast. While the swimming season is over in some areas, beach towns to the south are still enjoying warm weather. The Red Cross has tips to keep swimmers safe from the rip currents that Sandy may cause:
More information on what to do if caught in a rip current is available on this web site.
CARIBBEAN RESPONSE The Jamaican Red Cross has shelters open to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge. Some areas are without water and power, roads are closed due to fallen trees and some residents have had to evacuate from their neighborhoods. The Red Cross has mobilized disaster workers to manage the shelters and support the country’s national emergency operation center. Weather experts report Sandy is expected to produce as much as a foot of rain in Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
The storm strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane before passing over Cuba and is now heading toward the Bahamas. In Cuba, more than 230 Red Cross volunteers are helping evacuees from areas facing high flooding risks.
Some regions in Haiti have been placed under the government’s “red alert” for emergency warnings, including the capital area, where the Red Cross is preparing to assist with evacuating 14 camps identified as highly vulnerable to flooding. Throughout the country, several rivers are at or near flooding, and there are reports of damage to roads and at least one hospital in the coastal town of Les Cayes. Red Cross Emergency Response Teams in Haiti are on standby and able to distribute emergency relief supplies to up to 11,000 families if needed. In addition, the Pan-American Disaster Response Unit is ready to distribute relief supplies throughout the region as needed.
HOW TO HELP To help, make a donation by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). You can also text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to the local Red Cross chapter or the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.