(Los Angeles, October 23rd, 2015). As Mexico braces for Hurricane Patricia, more than 500 Mexican Red Cross volunteers are ready to support with first aid, logistics, relief distributions, shelter support and damage assessments. The Mexican Red Cross has pre-positioned 18 emergency response units—including ambulances—around Puerto Vallarta, have positioned thirty tons of relief supplies in advance of Hurricane Patricia making landfall, and are assisting with community evacuations.
“The American Red Cross works closely with the Mexican Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid and assistance during large emergencies” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO for Los Angeles Region American Red Cross. “Disaster specialists at the American Red Cross are monitoring the storm closely, remain in close contact with colleagues at the Mexican Red Cross, and are on standby to assist” added Barrios.
As in all international disasters, the American Red Cross intervenes when the national society (in this case, the Mexican Red Cross) requests outside help. In the past, the American Red Cross has provided aid to families impacted by heavy storms and flooding in Mexico, such as the distribution of kitchen items, household cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene kits in the wake of Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid, which struck in September 2013. In response to Hurricane Odile—which made landfall in September 2014—the American Red Cross made a financial donation to aid survivors and helped reconnect families of US citizens who were stranded in Mexico. Likewise, the Mexican Red Cross makes itself available to aid the American Red Cross during emergencies, which it did during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
What Angelenos Can Do to Help Now
Many people in Los Angeles have friends and loved ones who live in areas that are in the path of the storm, and places like Puerto Vallarta are popular vacation destinations for people from our area. This is what you can do:
• Set up your emergency communications plan with them NOW, while communications are still up. How will you get in touch and know they're safe if phone lines and cell towers go down?
• Ensure they have an emergency kit with supplies for at least 3 days, including food, water, medications, important documents, clothing, a crank radio, back-up chargers for phones, etc. Find a full list here: http://preparesocal.org/get-a-kit/
• Find out where they will get information on when and where to evacuate, especially if they are visiting from out of town and aren’t familiar with evacuation routes and procedures.
• Download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which provides tips on how to stay safe before, during and after a hurricane and also provides emergency alerts and other tools. http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane.
• If they are American citizens in Mexico, they should check with the U.S. Department of State for guidance: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/hurricane-patricia-travel-alert.html
Red Cross Reconnects Families after Disaster
The American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, in partnership with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, offers worldwide tracing services for family members whose lines of communication have been broken as a result of natural disaster. At this time, the Mexican Red Cross is on stand by and preparing to offer Restoring Family Links services after the Hurricane makes landfall. At this time, RFL disaster inquiries for Hurricane Patricia are not available and a family links website is not active.
We strongly suggest families make individual plans on how to contact family members should communication lines be affected, such as learning family members evacuation plans, who they will be with during the hurricane and possible follow up plans should communication lines remain unavailable. As soon as details on RFL services for Hurricane Patricia are available, they will be communicated to media.
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 visit redcrossla.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossLA or @CruzRojaLA.