The devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew are still causing great suffering in several states, including North Carolina, where deadly floods have cut off entire communities – the American Red Cross is still on the scene. The storm’s lingering effects also continue to impact blood collections in the southeast, resulting in an urgent need for blood and platelet donations across the country. U.S. officials are reporting damage of at least $6 billion, making Matthew the costliest hurricane since Sandy in 2012.
Overall, Matthew dumped 13.6 trillion gallons of water on the U.S., enough to fill the Rose Bowl 163,000 times. The 14 inches that fell in Fayetteville, N.C., last weekend was the city's rainiest single day on record. The Red Cross has mobilized a widespread sheltering effort spanning four states and has provided more overnight stays in shelters then after Superstorm Sandy.
Red Cross relief work is really just beginning.
Nearly 4,500 people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida woke up Wednesday morning in 77 Red Cross and community shelters. The number of people in North Carolina shelters doubled Monday night. Since Hurricane Matthew first threatened the U.S., Red Cross and community partners have served more than 356,000 meals and snacks, distributed nearly 16,000 relief items, and provided nearly 79,000 overnight stays in shelters. The Red Cross has mobilized more than 3,000 disaster workers, 170 response vehicles—more than half of our total vehicle fleet—and more than 100 trailers filled with water, ready-to-eat meals, cots, blankets, kitchen items, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more. More volunteers, vehicles and supplies are being mobilized now to supplement relief efforts.
As conditions permit, Red Cross response vehicles will begin circulating through the hardest hit areas to begin delivering food and relief supplies.
On the ground in North Carolina -
Mark Niewald and his dog Ember are already famous at the Spring Lake shelter where he is managing the operation. Niewald began volunteering at the Red Cross in May, supporting blood drives. He joined the Red Cross because, “I’m retired and wanted to help my community, and I know the Red Cross does good work.” He is diabetic, and his service dog Ember joined him on his first disaster deployment for Hurricane Matthew. Niewald is managing and staffing the shelter, and he and Ember have worked tirelessly over a 29-hour stretch to attend to the needs of the clients in his shelter since it opened earlier this week. Ember, who moves energetically on 3 legs, has been enthusiastically playing with the children at the shelter, and serving as a therapy dog for many clients this week, who have lost their homes, and in some cases have pets who are staying with the local animal shelter.
Preparing to deliver thousands of meals and drinks is no small business, and Red Cross volunteers from around the country gather and work together to stock Emergency Response Vehicles with meals and water to bring to the many communities around Fayetteville, NC. In many cases both power and water service have been lost, and residents are hungry, exhausted, and in need of hot food and water. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, and in spite of continuing high flood waters, the weather has been sunny and hot during the day, and drinking water is critical.
HOW TO HELP
MAKE A DONATION The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Learn more about the Red Cross response to Hurricane Matthew here.
GIVE BLOOD, PLATELETS In parts of the country unaffected by the storm, the Red Cross needs eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. 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 by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).