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Local Volunteer headed to East Coast

The American Red Cross Santa Cruz County has deployed one local disaster volunteer from Watsonville to New York to help with Hurricane Irene disaster response. They join eight other regional volunteers from Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties to areas in Virginia, New York and North Carolina. Dozens of volunteers from Monterey, Santa Cruz and other bay area counties are on standby to be deployed once Hurricane Irene makes landfall.

One of those deployed today is American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter Chief Executive Officer Harold Brooks who will be working in Virginia with chapters there.

"It is an honor to be a part of the relief operation that brings comfort to those affected by disaster," said Harold Brooks, CEO of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter this morning from the East Coast. "Because of our extensive local volunteer training and response practices, the Red Cross can come together from different locales across the country, with many kinds of expertise, to quickly helps those in need.

As members of the American Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resources (DSHR) System, these local residents are ready to leave home on short notice (within 24 hours) for 2- to 3-week assignments on large-scale disaster relief operations anywhere in the country. These volunteers are highly trained through our local Red Cross Chapter in a specialized area of disaster relief, and many have extensive experience in Red Cross disaster relief operations in our local community and throughout the United States.

RESPONSE AT A GLANCE

Hurricane Irene is a category 3 storm and could affect a large swath of the East Coast this weekend with wind and heavy rain. Trained Red Cross disaster relief workers and relief supplies are mobilizing for a full East Coast response. About 200 mobile feeding vehicles are already moving towards North Carolina and Virginia where Irene is predicted to make the first U.S. landfall. Last night hundreds of people sought refuge in Red Cross shelters in North Carolina and Maryland. The Red Cross has additional shelters open in Delaware, New Jersey and New York where residents are being encouraged to evacuate, and more shelters will be opening in other states as the storm moves up the coast. Open Red Cross shelters can be found on an interactive Google map at www.redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross shelter app for your iphone.

LOOKING FOR LOVED ONES

Red Cross Safe and Well website www.redcross.org/safe-and-well helps people stay in touch after a disaster. People in evacuation areas can let their loved ones know what their situation is due to the hurricane. The site can be also be accessed by going to www.redcross.org/safeandwell on a smart phone, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. People can also update their Facebook and Twitter status through the Safe and Well site. Affected residents should also download the free Red Cross shelter finder app in the Apple iTunes store.

WAYS THE COMMUNITY CAN HELP

Become a Volunteer

American Red Cross volunteers undergo special training to provide them with the ability to safely and efficiently provide relief services. The Santa Cruz County Chapter will be offering disaster volunteer training -- Disaster Services Overview and Shelter Operations – tomorrow, Saturday, August 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Interested parties can call (831) 462-2881 x 116 or email jacobsl@usa.redcross.org. Prospective volunteers will be required to successfully pass a background check and take the required training before they can be deployed.

Financial Donations

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free. We rely on the donations of the American people to support our work. American Red Cross disaster preparedness starts long before a hurricane makes landfall, beginning with keeping supplies and equipment on stand-by all year to help people in need. Every day, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 200 disasters ranging from house fires to tornadoes and massive hurricane – each one devastating to the people involved. On average, the Red Cross spends about $450 million on disaster relief every year.

If someone would like to support Red Cross disaster efforts, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org/santacruz, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or sending contributions to the Santa Cruz Chapter at 2960 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Blood Donations Needed

Irene could affect blood collections along the East Coast at a time when the nation’s blood supply is already low. The Red Cross is urging those who are eligible to give blood prior to the storm’s arrival. Donating blood now, before the storm, will help ensure blood is available in the aftermath of Irene should conditions prohibit people from traveling to blood collections. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at www.redcrossblood.org.

Be Prepared

Disasters can strike in our own backyard at anytime, anywhere... are you prepared? Get your Red Cross disaster kit and other emergency supplies at our online store to keep you and your loved ones safe and prepared. Plus a portion of your purchase helps fund Red Cross disaster relief and safety training. For tips for protecting yourself, your family and your home before, during, and after a storm, visit www.redcross.org/santacruz or your local Chapter’s website.

About American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter

The American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter is an independent, nonprofit organization that depends upon the generosity of our local community for our financial support. We do not receive funds from any governmental agencies. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/santacruz.