Thousands displaced in Haiti; storm cancels blood drives in U.S.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 8, 2016 — Thousands of people in the path of Hurricane Matthew are looking to the American Red Cross for help as the deadly storm continues to pummel the southeast coast. More than 18,000 people across four states woke up Saturday morning in 183 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters.
“For the second night in a row, we have seen more people in evacuation shelters than during the height of Superstorm Sandy. Right now we’re focusing on keeping people safe, providing shelter, and feeding thousands of evacuees,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “We’re working with the entire response community to be ready for what people will need when Matthew makes his exit.”
PLATELET DONATIONS CRITICALLY NEEDED FOR PATIENTS
The storm has also impacted the nation’s blood supply. This week, Hurricane Matthew has forced the cancellation of more than 30 Red Cross blood drives in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, resulting in more than 1,300 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. More cancellations are likely along the Southeast coast of the U.S.
“We are asking eligible individuals in areas unaffected by the hurricane to make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible to help patients in need,” said Shaun Gilmore, president of Biomedical Services for the Red Cross. “In particular, the need for platelet donations is critical right now. Blood products are currently being distributed to hospitals as quickly as they come in.”
Platelets are a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients that must be transfused within five days of donation. Appointments for blood and platelet donations can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
U.S. DISASTER RESPONSE
On Friday night. there were 74 evacuation shelters in Florida with nearly 6,000 people; 30 shelters in Georgia with nearly 6,000 people; 63 shelters in South Carolina with 6,300 people and 16 shelters in North Carolina with 200 people.
In addition to mobilizing more than 2,200 trained disaster workers, the Red Cross has also deployed 95 emergency response vehicles and pre-positioned 94 trailers stocked with relief supplies including water, ready-to-eat meals, cleaning items and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more. As soon as it is safe to do so, the Red Cross will be coordinating with partners to support people as they return home.
If someone needs to find a shelter, they can visit redcross.org, check the Red Cross Emergency App or call 1-800-768-8048. The free Red Cross Emergency App gives users emergency weather alerts, safety and shelter information on their mobile devices. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
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.
The American Red Cross is working closely with the Haitian Red Cross to assess the extent of damage and get much-needed supplies to the 61,000 residents displaced by Hurricane Matthew. Due to the extent of the damage and the continued difficultly in reaching several of the affected areas, the American Red Cross is playing a key coordination role with local authorities and international humanitarian organizations to ensure life-saving support and supplies reach all those in need.
Basic infrastructure such as communication systems, water systems and electricity are highly damaged and non-functional in some locations. Major needs include shelter, clean water and sanitation, and American Red Cross teams in Haiti pre-deployed to the affected areas are currently distributing a first round of life-saving relief supplies, including hygiene (cooking) kits, and cholera-prevention kits.
Destruction in the affected area has complicated transit and communications, however initial assessments indicate major needs are shelter, clean water, sanitation and disease prevention related to water-borne illnesses such as cholera, dengue and Zika. Additional relief supplies, such as water purification products, shelter kits, and mosquito nets are being procured locally and internationally.
Destroyed communication systems coupled with poor road accessibility are preventing people from reaching their family members in affected areas. Those searching for non-U.S. citizen family members can contact the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links unit at redcross.org/reconnectingfamilies. The best way to locate U.S. citizens living or traveling overseas is to contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or +1 202-501-4444.