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Red Cross Mobilizing in Advance of Historic and Powerful Hurricane Irma

Central Floridians Preparing for Impact
The Red Cross is working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate response efforts

TAMPA, FLORIDA – September 8, 2017 –The American Red Cross is mounting a massive response to Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm on record. Irma has already caused destruction on many Caribbean island nations on its track toward the United States.

As the storm makes its way towards Florida, the American Red Cross is getting supplies and trained workers in place to support sheltering and relief efforts along the Eastern seaboard. The Red Cross is working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate response efforts. The organization is mobilizing:

  • Hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers and truckloads of relief supplies.
  • Trailers of shelter supplies to support 120,000 people.
  • 100,000 ready-to-eat meals and as many as 120 emergency response vehicles.

    Across Central Florida, the Red Cross is working with County Emergency Managers and community organizations to provide safe shelters where evacuees can find refuge from the storm. Find an open Red Cross shelter by visiting or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

    As of Friday, Sept. 8, the Central Florida Red Cross is supporting evacuation shelters that have already opened in Hillsborough and Sarasota Counties. Additional shelters are anticipated, and will be posted in real time at After the map loads, click on “state” from the list to search for open shelters. Also find the State of Florida shelter index by county at

    When evacuating to a shelter, individuals should bring prescription or emergency medications, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, extra clothing, important documents, a charged cell phone, ear plugs and comfort items. Don’t forget any special items needed for children such as diapers, formula and toys, and items needed by family members with unique needs. Space is limited, so people are advised to bring essential items only and leave valuables at home. Please note that alcohol, tobacco products and weapons are not allowed inside shelters.


    Preparedness tips and checklists can be found at Here are a few:

    Before the storm:

  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Ready your emergency kit. Make sure it contains supplies for about three days.
  • If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary.
  • Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood danger.
  • Make sure you have a plan and supplies for your pets.
  • During the storm:

  • Stay indoors.
  • Don’t walk on beaches, riverbanks or in flood waters.
  • Use flashlights in the dark if the power goes out. Do NOT use candles.
  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Don’t forget your pets. Bring them indoors and maintain direct control of them.
  • After the storm:

  • Let friends and family know you’re safe - Register yourself as safe on the Safe and Well website
  • If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding.

    When a hurricane strikes, your donation helps the Red Cross provide shelter, food and comfort to families. The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

    About the American Red Cross of Central Florida:

    The Central Florida Region of the American Red Cross serves 19 counties through five chapters: Florida’s Space Coast (Daytona Beach), Greater Orlando, Mid-Florida (Winter Haven), Southwest Florida (Sarasota) and Tampa Bay. For more information, visit Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

    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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.