As Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Haiti, the American Red Cross is preparing for the most powerful hurricane in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007 to reach the United States later this week. The American Red Cross is warning the storm has the potential to impact multiple states, threaten millions and potentially force thousands to seek emergency shelter.
Volunteer Diane Sargent of Lockport is deploying to Florida in anticipation of Matthew’s landfall, where she will serve in Disaster Assessment. Sargent has been on seven deployments this year, including the relief efforts following an industrial fire in Lockport this August. Sargent joins Sarah Perkins from Pittsford, N.Y. as Western and Central New York volunteers who have deployed to Florida. This is Perkins’ 7th disaster deployment of 2016, and 46th as a Red Cross volunteer. She most recently returned from Louisiana, where she was one of more than 60 Western and Central New York Region volunteers who have served in the relief efforts following historic flooding across much of the state.
Caribbean Response Efforts Underway
In Haiti, high winds, heavy rains and a strong storm surge blasted the southern coast early Tuesday morning. After the storm passes, the American Red Cross team in Haiti will begin conducting needs and damage assessments in preparation for delivering prepositioned response stocks in partnership with the Haitian Red Cross.
In addition, the Haitian the Red Cross has more than 3,000 volunteers and staff working to help impacted communities with health, sanitation and emergency response. Emergency supply kits have been prepared and shipped out to warehouses in affected areas, including cholera prevention kits, hygiene kits, and kitchen sets. Community Intervention Teams (CITs) made up of volunteers trained in search and rescue and first-aid have been mobilized and equipped.
Throughout the Caribbean, Red Cross teams have been readied to assist more countries in Matthew’s path, including Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. The IFRC regional office in Panama is closely monitoring the storm and actively adjusting response plans as the storm’s path evolves. The IFRC is planning to deploy disaster professionals and assessment teams to the areas that are most severely affected – and the American Red Cross is supporting where it can.
U.S. Military Families Evacuate from Guantanamo Bay
More than 700 U.S. Military personnel, spouses and children from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay are seeking shelter at Naval Air Station Pensacola after being evacuated on Sunday. As of Tuesday morning, the Red Cross has distributed 1,000 meals and snacks, as well as comfort kits and diapers, and provided nearly 50 cots. Remaining military personnel in Cuba are being provided disaster preparedness support by the Red Cross in conjunction with the U.S. Military.
East Coast Bracing for Multistate Impact
Hurricane Matthew could affect the United States later this week, and the American Red Cross is getting ready now for a potential multistate response. From Florida to New England, the Red Cross is finalizing shelter plans and preparing vehicles and supplies. Trained Red Cross disaster relief workers are being mobilized across multiple states.
The Red Cross is urging people in the potential path of Hurricane Matthew to stay informed about the storm and take steps to get prepared now. The Red Cross recommends taking these three steps: 1) build a disaster kit; 2) come up with an emergency plan; and 3) be informed about how local authorities will notify you during a disaster, whether through local media or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels. Stay informed by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App which puts real time information and hurricane safety tips as your fingertips. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or going to redcross.org/apps.
Blood Donations Needed
Depending on the path and impact of the storm, Hurricane Matthew may force the cancellation of some Red Cross blood drives along the East Coast. Additionally, fewer donors will likely come out to donate at drives in affected areas due to poor weather conditions. The Red Cross is closely monitoring the potential hurricane path of Hurricane Matthew and plans to send additional blood products to areas likely to be impacted by the storm to ensure patient needs continue to be met.
It’s important to remember that it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps during a disaster. We encourage eligible donors to please give blood or platelets before the storm arrives to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. All eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by Hurricane Matthew are also urged to schedule an appointment.
HOW TO HELP The work of the American Red Cross starts long before a hurricane makes landfall in the United States. For example, we have warehouses stocked with disaster relief supplies, thousands of trained workers, and more than 320 mobile response vehicles on standby year-round to be ready to help people in need. 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 the 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.
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 to donate blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).