The 2017 hurricane season could become one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record. For several weeks, thousands of Red Cross disaster workers have been helping folks impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which devastated parts of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As Hurricane Maria approaches Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Red Cross is preparing to respond to yet another massive storm
Red Cross Response
The Red Cross has robust disaster response capabilities, which allow the organization to respond to several significant disasters like these hurricanes without compromising the assistance we provide to those in need.
Our disaster response force consists of thousands of trained disaster workers, of whom 94 percent are volunteers. The American Red Cross has had employees and volunteers on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since before Hurricane Irma made landfall. The Red Cross will resume service delivery after Maria clears the islands and it is safe to do so.
Additionally, large numbers of people in the disaster areas wanting to help their neighbors were trained and put to work supporting relief efforts. Red Cross societies from around the world are coming to the United States to help those impacted by these storms. The Colombian Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross are deploying to help with the relief efforts. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies works hand-in-hand with the American Red Cross during disaster relief, and their involvement in this response will help people get back on their feet.
Safety Urged for Those in Path of Maria
People should check emergency kits and replenish with supplies for about three days, to include a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications and copies of important documents. Remember items for young children such as diapers, and family members with special medical needs.
Don’t forget your pets. Include them in your emergency plans. Bring them indoors and maintain direct control of them. Prepare an emergency kit 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. Full details available at redcross.org/pets. Download the free Red Cross Pet First Aid App for emergency preparedness tips, a pet-friendly hotel locator and an animal hospital locator.
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Hurricane Maria is expected to make a devastating strike on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. territories that are still recovering from Irma’s landfall less than two weeks ago. The Red Cross urges those in the path of this storm to heed the advice of local officials and follow any evacuation orders. Listen to local media or NOAA radio for the latest updates. The storm is expected to hit the region with hurricane force winds, deadly storm surge and heavy rainfall which could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
The American Red Cross is in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, working side by side with our partners to provide safe refuge and support. Red Cross workers on both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are taking shelter and will begin service delivery after Maria passes over the islands and it is safe to do so.
In Puerto Rico, local officials are opening evacuation shelters, and the Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers and supplies to be ready to help after the storm passes.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Red Cross is preparing for Hurricane Maria and expanding emergency sheltering efforts on St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. In both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Red Cross volunteers are working in close collaboration with local officials and community partners to coordinate response efforts.
As Hurricane Maria moves through the region, Red Cross Societies from around the world are responding on Caribbean islands where Hurricane Irma left behind catastrophic devastation, starting what could become a complex, multi-country relief and recovery effort.
Major relief efforts continue throughout the Caribbean. The American Red Cross has committed $100,000 to assist in meeting the immediate needs of those affected. In addition to supporting Caribbean national societies, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) is working with the British, French, Netherlands and American Red Cross societies, to coordinate and support preparedness and response efforts. The International Committee of the Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross Society, Italian Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, and Spanish Red Cross are also supporting the response efforts. The Red Cross societies across the Caribbean are focused on meeting the immediate needs in their territories. These needs include search and rescue, the distribution of vital relief supplies, and damage and needs assessments as well as steps to reduce the risk of epidemic outbreaks. Employees and volunteers are working closely with local authorities and the IFRC.
In Haiti, the American Red Cross is working closely with Haitian Red Cross and other partners to assess the damage in the northern region of the country and distribute vital relief supplies.
Need for Blood is Constant
The American Red Cross depends on generous volunteer blood donors to provide lifesaving blood for those in need – each and every day – not only during times of disaster. Last week, Hurricane Irma forced the cancellation of approximately 100 Red Cross blood drives in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, resulting in nearly 2,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations. It’s important to remember that it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps during a disaster. Through our national inventory system, the Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to wherever and whenever it is needed most. Eligible donors can give blood or platelets to help ensure a sufficient blood supply. Platelet and type O blood donations are especially needed right now. 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).