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Red Cross Mobilizing in Advance of Historic and Powerful Hurricane Irma

Prepare for Hurricane season

Storm batters Caribbean and heads for Florida

Washington, D.C., September 7, 2017 — The American Red Cross is mounting a massive response as Hurricane Irma — the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm on record – remains a Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds expected to impact Florida as early as Friday. Irma has already caused destruction on many Caribbean island nations on its track toward the United States, and the Red Cross urges that those in the possible path of this storm monitor weather reports and get prepared or evacuate now.

In the Caribbean:

Hurricane Irma has already battered an estimated 1.2 million people in the Caribbean, and threatens millions more as it moves across the region. On the island of Barbuda, most of the buildings are damaged. Anguilla and St. Maarten also received major damage. Thousands of residents are without power and water, and there are major disruptions in phone and cell service. On Anguilla, the local Red Cross facility was severely damaged. In addition to the Red Cross Societies on the islands, numerous countries are helping, including the American Red Cross and Red Cross Societies in Canada, Italy, Spain, and Norway, as well as teams from the International Federation of the Red Cross and International Committee of the Red Cross.

In the U.S.:

In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, some roads are damaged, phone and cell service is disrupted, and airports and ports are closed. In Puerto Rico, the Red Cross is on the ground helping and has sent in relief items such as blankets, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies. More than half-a-million people are without power. More than 140 people spent Wednesday night in 20 shelters. On the U.S. Virgin Islands, almost 300 people spent Wednesday night in 6 shelters.

As the storm makes its way towards Florida, the Red Cross is getting supplies and trained workers in place to support sheltering and relief efforts.

  • The Red Cross is mobilizing hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers and is deploying truckloads of relief supplies.
  • Trailers of shelter supplies with enough cots and blankets for 120,000 people are on the way to help people impacted by Irma.
  • In addition, 100,000 ready-to-eat meals and as many as 120 emergency response vehicles are being mobilized.
  • The Red Cross is also working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate potential response efforts.
  • In preparation for Hurricane Irma, the Red Cross has pre-positioned additional blood products in areas of the Southeast likely to be impacted by the storm over the upcoming days. Earlier this week, the Red Cross also shipped additional blood products to Puerto Rico to help ensure a sufficient supply remains available for our hospital partners on the island in the aftermath of this powerful storm.
  • Governors in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have issued states of emergency for all three states, which could face impact from the storm sometime next week.

    Hurricane Safety Steps

    Find a shelter by visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App also puts real-time information about the storm and hurricane safety tips at your fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. You can also follow these safety steps:

    Before the storm:

  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary.
  • Build an emergency kit that contains supplies for about three days.
  • Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe to do so.
  • Head for higher ground and stay there.
  • 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. Download the free Red Cross Pet First Aid App for emergency preparedness tips, a pet-friendly hotel locator and an animal hospital locator.
  • 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. Prepare an emergency kit for your pets, including sturdy leashes or pet carriers, food and water, bowls, cat litter and pan, and photos of you with your pet in case they get lost.
  • Find more information on preparedness on redcross.org.

    How to Help

    The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disaster. Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

    CORPORATIONS HELP The generous donations from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and the Disaster Responder Program enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters big and small, respond whenever and wherever disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.

    ADGP $1 Million members are: American Airlines; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Anthem Foundation; Bank of America; Caterpillar Foundation; The Clorox Company; Costco Wholesale; Delta Air Lines; Disney; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; FedEx; General Motors Foundation; Grainger; The Home Depot Foundation; LDS Charities; Lowe's Companies, Inc.; Mazda North American Operations; Microsoft Corp.; Nationwide Foundation; PepsiCo Foundation; State Farm; Target; UPS; VSP Global; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; and The Wawa Foundation.

    ADGP $500,000 members are: Altria Group; American Express; Aon; Boise Paper; Capital One; Cisco Foundation; Citi Foundation; Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation; Discover; Edison International; Farmers Insurance; Ford Motor Company; Humble Bundle; International Paper; John Deere Foundation; Johnson Controls; McDonald’s Corporation; Medtronic Foundation; Meijer; Merck Foundation; Mondelēz International Foundation; Procter & Gamble Company; Reynolds American Foundation; Ryder; Southwest Airlines; Sunoco; TD Ameritrade; The TJX Companies, Inc.; United Airlines; and Wells Fargo.

    Disaster Responder Program members are: Adobe; Alcoa; Alliance Data; Astellas USA Foundation; AT&T; AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; AXA; The Ball Foundation; BMW of North America; BNY Mellon; CarMax; Cox Automotive; Duke Energy; Entergy Corporation; Harbor Freight Tools Foundation; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation; HP Foundation; IBM Corporation; IHG Foundation; Ingersoll Rand Foundation; The J.M. Smucker Company; Land O’Lakes, Inc.; Mastercard; Morgan Stanley; Neiman Marcus Group; New Balance Foundation; Northrop Grumman Corporation; Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation; Prudential Foundation; SC Johnson; SERVPRO; Southeastern Grocers Home of BI-LO Harveys Winn Dixie; Standard Textile; Toyota; U-Haul International; United Technologies Corporation; The USAA Foundation; U.S. Bank; and Visa.

    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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.