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Winter Storm Leaving Midwest; Heading to Northeast

Leroy Straight averages 20-24 visits per year to the Donor Center to give platelets.
Storm has forced blood drives to be canceled.

The winter storm that buried the Midwest under more than a foot of snow is now headed toward the Northeast to unleash its fury in that region. The American Red Cross is responding across the Central Plains and working with officials in the Northeast to plan a response there where as much as a foot of snow could fall.

The heavy snow brought trees and roofs down and closed roads across several states in the middle of the country. About 32,000 homes are still without power in the Midwest due to the storm. The Red Cross opened shelters in Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma for those affected by the storm.

BLOOD DONORS NEEDED Meanwhile, February’s severe winter weather has forced the cancellation of more than 140 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in almost 12,000 blood and platelet donations uncollected so far.

The Red Cross urges those living in areas unaffected by the storms and eligible to give blood to schedule a donation now. All blood types are needed, but there is a particular need for donors with types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative blood. And, since platelets have a shelf-life of just five days, the Red Cross encourages platelet donors to schedule their next appointment in the days and weeks ahead.

To schedule a donation, or for more information about giving blood, people can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

AS THE STORM NEARS THE NORTHEAST, people who may be in the path of the storm should prepare now. These are steps they can take to get ready:

  • Pack a kit with a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food for each person in your household. Find out what other items you should include by visiting the Red Cross winter storm safety information.
  • Make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit in the car, and keep your car's gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Make sure you have a flashlight and extra batteries on hand as well as a battery-powered or hand-crank radio to stay informed about the storm.
  • Check to make sure you have sand, rock salt or kitty litter on hand to keep walkways and steps less slippery.
  • Get the warm coats, gloves, mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets ready, as well as warm clothing for everyone in your household.
  • PEOPLE IN THE MIDWEST should go to a designated public shelter if they have no power or heat as they recover from the storm. Other safety steps include:

  • Avoid driving until road conditions improve. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle. Your kit should include a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, cleaner for your windshield, reflective triangles and bright cloth, an ice scraper and snow brush and non-perishable food.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children
  • More information on what steps you can take to stay safe during storms and other emergencies is available on this website.

    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.