Red Cross has launched a large disaster response that could last for weeks across multiple states along the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Isaac affects millions of lives with strong winds, heavy rain, flooding and coastal surges.
Almost 2,400 Red Cross disaster workers are in the region, opening evacuation shelters and providing relief supplies for those affected by Isaac in several states along the Gulf. Last night nearly 800 people stayed in 52 shelters in five states and more shelters could open today.
HOW EASTERN NC IS PITCHING IN Although our region will not see major effects from Hurricane Isaac, the Eastern NC region of the American Red Cross has been hard at work mobilizing volunteers, vehicles and supplies in preparation of the storm. As of this afternoon 3 Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) and 8 volunteers have deployed to assist with the relief efforts in Mississippi.
From New Bern - Jim Dunham and Ralph Aviles, an ERV team from the Coastal Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross, left early Tuesday morning in route to Hattiesburg, MI where they will be doing mobile feeding and bulk distribution of supplies such as clean up kits for those affected by the storm. Jim has assisted on a number of disaster operations in the south; this will be Ralph’s first Red Cross disaster deployment.
From Jacksonville - Helen Miller, local disaster volunteer at the Onslow County Chapter was deployed to a staging area in Orlando, Florida last Friday in support of American Red Cross relief efforts for Hurricane Isaac and on Sunday was moved to Mississippi to manage feeding operations. Helen has been an active volunteer for 15 years and this will be her 36th disaster response assignment since 1999. She will be managing the preparation, packaging and delivering of meals in the aftermath of TS Isaac making landfall.
From Rocky Mount - Mother and son team Cynthia Ann and Jonathan Wright, from Spring Hope, left this morning driving the ERV from the Wayne County Chapter of the Red Cross in Goldsboro. They are headed to Hattiesburg, MI where they will join the response operation utilizing the ERV for mobile feeding and bulk distribution. This will be the 7th anniversary of Cynthia’s first Red Cross deployment- Hurricane Katrina where she worked at the national call center in Washington, DC dispatching calls for assistance. Since then, Cynthia has worked on a number of Red Cross responses including floods in Tennessee and NJ, Hurricane Ike, and local responses like Hurricane Irene and the 2011 tornadoes. Cynthia is happy to get the opportunity to assist residents of the Gulf Coast, “It feels like I’m Santa Claus when I can deliver food and see the grateful look on people’s faces. I love it, its part of who I am; it’s my favorite part of the job.” Her son, Jonathan, 28, will be joining his mother for his first national deployment. “We like to keep it in the family,” joked Cynthia, “I’m the brains and he’s the muscle.” Last year during Hurricane Irene, Jonathan managed an evacuation shelter in NC. He and Cynthia are both volunteers from the Frederick E. Turnage Chapter in Rocky Mount, NC.
From Elizabeth City - Cliff Rabourn and Don Campbell of the Greater Albemarle Area Chapter of the American Red Cross are driving an ERV down to Hattiesburg, MI where they will meet up with their fellow Red Cross volunteers to help feed and provide supplies to storm victims. Cliff and Don have worked together as a team in the past but this will be their first national deployment together. They are both very well seasoned volunteers. For 48 years, Cliff has been volunteering as an emergency responder with a number of different organizations. He has worked with the Red Cross on many relief operations across the country. Don is in his 12th year as a volunteer for the Red Cross. As a retired member of the Coast Guard, he knew this was a great fit for him. Cliff and Don say they volunteer to help others and the community.
From Wilmington - Red Cross volunteer Doug Erickson left this morning for Baton Rouge, LA where he will work as a government liaison in the response headquarters. His responsibilities will include collaborating with local emergency management and partner agencies as well as serving as a representative in the emergency operation center. Doug is a long time volunteer serving on numerous national disasters for more than 10 years.
WHAT THE RED CROSS IS DOING Nearly 190 Red Cross emergency response vehicles – almost 80 percent of the Red Cross fleet – have been deployed or put on alert to help. The Red Cross has also:
MANY PARTNERS HELPING The multi-state response is very large and the Red Cross is working closely with local, state and federal officials and community organizations to coordinate this multi-state relief response and help ensure people get the help they need. These partners include AmeriCorps, American Psychological Association, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Buddhist Tzu Cui Foundation, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Hope worldwide, Islamic Relief USA, Medical Reserve Corps, NAACP, National Baptist Convention USA, National Black Nurses Association, Save the Children, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Teamsters-AFL/CIO and the Salvation Army.
HOW PEOPLE CAN HELP Isaac is expected to cause widespread wind and flooding damage across the region, and the Red Cross has a major response underway. People can click or text to donate by clicking here, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
FIND A SHELTER People who may be in its path should stay informed and follow evacuation instructions by local authorities. If asked to shelter in place, folks should remain in their home until conditions improve. If possible, they should keep their cell phone charged and have extra batteries available for flashlights. If someone needs to find a shelter, they can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check local media outlets. If they are going to a shelter they should remember to bring the following:
RED CROSS HURRICANE APP Folks along the coast and in states in its path should stay informed on the storm’s progress from the National Weather Service. Downloading the Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices provides important safety information. The free Hurricane App features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. It can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
SAFE AND WELL People can also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website to let loved ones know where and how they are. Safe and Well is a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, people can visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.
BLOOD DONATIONS NEEDED Isaac has already forced the cancellation of some blood drives along the Gulf Coast. Depending on the storm’s path, additional blood collections may be cancelled, causing a shortfall of blood in the affected areas. All eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by the storm are encouraged to call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at www.redcrossblood.org today to schedule an appointment to give blood.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 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 click here or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.