The American Red Cross is proactively readying its workers and resources in anticipation of Hurricane Patricia in order to be ready to respond quickly to the enormous storm.
“We are part of the geographic network of Red Cross chapters who will be among the first called to help our brothers and sisters in Texas and the South if this hurricane results in extensive damage and flooding. We are leaning forward to be ready to respond quickly if needed,” said Jaici Murcia, Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming.
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. 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. 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.
WHAT COLORADANS CAN DO NOW
Many people in Colorado 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. Coloradans are encouraged to help their friends and loved ones in the path of the storm be prepared:
- 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
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
- 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://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family
HOW TO HELP
In the immediate aftermath of a large disaster, the best way to help is to make a financial contribution to the aid agencies responding. Once emergency response agencies have established their response structure, you can also reach out to find out what specific needs have arisen and the best way to help meet those needs. Do not drive into the affected area to deliver goods or to volunteer unless you have already coordinated with an aid agency to confirm the need for your help and the ability to utilize it. (This article provides a deeper explanation of the best and worst ways to help: http://money.howstuffworks.com/10-worst-things-donate-after-disaster.htm)
Because of the size, complexity and cost of responding to large-scale disasters, the Red Cross utilizes local Red Cross and community volunteers first, then deploys skilled, trained volunteers from its nationwide network of Red Cross chapters. If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, it is important to sign up now and complete training so that you are ready to help your community when the need arises. Visit redcross.org/Colorado to fill out a volunteer application.
The next Red Cross disaster responder training in the Denver-metro area will be Nov. 7-8 in Kiowa. The weekend-long training will onboard new volunteers and train them in all the basic skills and knowledge they need to get started as Red Cross disaster volunteers.
WHAT: Red Cross Disaster Volunteer Training Academy
WHEN: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7 and 8
WHERE: Elbert County Fairgrounds, 95 Ute Ave, Kiowa, CO 80117
COST: FREE. Lunch and snacks are provided.
REGISTER: Sign up at https://goo.gl/kspr4U or call 303-607-4770 for more information.
Volunteers who attend the training will be trained to respond to everyday disasters such as home fires, to open and run emergency shelters, and to coordinate and deliver lifesaving home fire preparedness campaigns in their communities. People who are interested are encouraged to register as Red Cross volunteers in advance, but Red Cross workers will also be on hand during the training to help complete online registration.
Red Cross Disaster Academies are offered throughout the state on various dates; visit redcross.org/Colorado to fill out a volunteer application and receive more information about training opportunities near you.