The American Red Cross is preparing a large multi-state response to help people in the path of Hurricane Matthew as the storm heads toward the southeast coast. Eight volunteers and staff members from the Western and Central New York Region are either on the ground or on the way to support the relief efforts.
Jeff Baldwin from Oswego, Judith Coleman of Corning, Vincent Jacob of Amherst and Qifan Yang of Vestal will all be working in shelter operations in Florida. Jeanne Frey of Binghamton is on the way to Florida to work in Health Services. Those five join three Western and Central New York volunteers who were deployed as part of the Hurricane Matthew response earlier this week: Sarah Perkins of Pittsford and Diane Sargent of Lockport are working in Disaster Assessment in Florida, while Donna Davis of Burdett is travelling to South Carolina where she will serve as a government relations supervisor in the State Emergency Operations Center.
The Red Cross has shelters, more than 500 disaster workers and 90 response vehicles standing by in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In Florida, the Red Cross is prepared to open or support as many as 100 evacuation shelters and has more than 30 emergency response vehicles standing by. In South Carolina, the Red Cross planned to open or support 19 evacuation shelters Wednesday, and dozens of additional shelters are ready to open in Georgia and North Carolina, as needed. The Red Cross has also prepositioned 30 trailer loads of sheltering supplies, ready-to-eat meals as well as clean-up kits and comfort kits containing personal hygiene items.
“We’re preparing for a large response across several states, opening dozens of shelters to make sure people have a safe place to stay and food to eat as Hurricane Matthew marches northward,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “This is a dangerous storm, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane since Felix in 2007. As the Red Cross gets ready, we urge people who may live in the path of this storm to make their own preparations now. It’s critical that coastal residents pay close attention to the forecast and listen to their local authorities, as even a small shift in the storm could have a significant impact.”
The Red Cross is also working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate preparedness activities and potential response efforts.
As predicted, Hurricane Matthew devastated the entire southern region of Haiti, with wind damage, flooding, houses which have been destroyed or washed away, landslides, power outages, and crop losses.
The 200-strong in-country American Red Cross staff and its Haitian partners are conducting initial damage assessments today to begin emergency response efforts and distributions. IT/Telecommunications equipment is being mobilized to further support overall communication and coordination in country, and emergency relief supplies, including hygiene kits, kitchen kits, and cholera kits are being delivered to vulnerable locations in the north and south.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP Everyone should download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on their mobile device, including emergency weather alerts, safety information and shelter locations. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HAVE A DISASTER KIT Include a gallon of water per person - enough for three days, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, family and emergency contact information, copies of important papers and a map of the area. More details on what to include are available here.
HURRICANE SAFETY People living in the path of the hurricane should listen to local officials and obey any evacuation orders. Other safety steps include:
· Know your evacuation route.
· Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind.
· Close doors, windows and hurricane shutters. If someone doesn’t have shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
· Fill the car’s gas tank.
· Avoid flooded roads and bridges. Turn around, don’t drown.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD Hurricane Matthew has already forced the cancellation of about a dozen Red Cross blood drives in South Carolina resulting in approximately 570 donations going uncollected. Dozens more blood drive cancellations are possible along the East Coast depending on the path and impact of the storm.
In addition to blood drive cancellations, the Red Cross is also at risk of being unable to collect more than 100 platelet donations if donation centers are forced to close over the next few days. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in demand.
The Red Cross has sent additional blood products to areas likely to be impacted by the storm and will send more as needed to ensure patient needs continue to be met.
The Red Cross encourages eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by the storm to please give blood or platelets to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
MAKE A DONATION For example, we have warehouses stocked with disaster relief supplies, thousands of trained workers, and more than 320 mobile response vehicles If we didn’t maintain these resources 24/7, we couldn’t get help to people in a timely fashion—but we depend on donations from the American public to be ready.
Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.