Irene, the first hurricane of 2011, is pounding the Carribean with heavy rain and winds leaving many. Irene is expected to gain strength as the week goes on, threatening Florida and the southeast states as early as Thursday.
The American Red Cross opened shelters on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John and is working closely with government partners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to coordinate any relief services that may be needed. The Red Cross has warehouses on the islands equipped with thousands of cots and blankets, kerosene lanterns and comfort and clean-up supplies.
Experts predict the storm will impact Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. In Haiti, the Red Cross is busy preparing for the storm, working to help people in vulnerable camps prepare for the storm, and putting emergency disaster risk reduction teams on alert.
The American Red Cross has been working in Haiti’s camps for many months on such activities as emergency first aid courses, training in early warning systems (megaphones and whistles), projects such as digging ditches and sandbagging hillsides, preparing evacuation routes and teaching children about disaster preparedness.
Red Cross officials are preparing to respond along the East Coast if needed, and urge anyone in Irene’s projected path to get ready too. Trained disaster relief workers are on alert, along with Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles and trucks equipped with communications technology.
As part of the preparation efforts, the Wabash Valley Chapter Emergency Response Vehicle is on
standby. “This means that we have completed our vehicle checklist to ensure that it is staffed,
stocked, clean, fueled and ready to deploy on assignment should it be called to do so, “ stated Chapter
Executive Director Carol Stevens.