The American Red Cross is getting ready to respond as powerful Hurricane Irma nears the United States and its territories, while continuing to help people impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricane Irma is currently a Category 5 storm with winds as high as 180 mph, and the Red Cross is urging those in the possible path of this storm to monitor weather reports and get prepared now. A free download of the Red Cross Emergency App can provide real-time information about the storm, available shelter locations and hurricane safety tips. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Hurricane Irma’s effects are predicted to hit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico early tomorrow. The Red Cross has robust disaster response capabilities that allow for a simultaneous response to two significant disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma without compromising the assistance provided to those in need. Haiti could also be affected, and the American Red Cross and Haitian Red Cross are pre-positioning disaster responders and relief items. There are relief supplies and vehicles on the ground and the Red Cross has shipped additional blood products to Puerto Rico to help ensure a sufficient supply is available for hospital partners on the island.
As we near the end of the week, it is expected that Irma could impact Florida, and the Red Cross is making plans now to be ready. Red Cross volunteers and relief supplies are being mobilized, and dozens of facilities have been pre-identified as potential evacuation shelters in case they are needed. The Red Cross is preparing enough supplies and resources to shelter at least 120,000 evacuees by this weekend. Sheltering plans are being closely coordinated with local emergency officials and dozens of partner organizations that can support relief efforts.
Though the rain has stopped falling in Texas and Louisiana, river and bayou flooding continues. In some communities, people are beginning to clean up their flooded homes. As more streets and highways clear, the Red Cross is fanning out to distribute food and relief supplies into more communities every day.
Harvey Donations at Work
The Red Cross is using generous financial donations to provide shelter, food, comfort and emergency support. For example:
• Donations pay for Red Cross shelters and the volunteers who are supporting them. As of Monday night, more than 32,000 people sought refuge in 192 Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas. The Red Cross is also assisting the Louisiana state government with emergency shelters which hosted more than 1,000 people last night.
• Donations pay to transport and support more than 3,100 Red Cross disaster workers that are on the ground in Texas, with an additional 420 on the way. There are also more than 200 people helping in Louisiana.
• Donations pay for the more than 807,000 meals and snacks already served in Texas, with the help of partners. An additional 33,000 served in Louisiana.
• Donations pay for the gas and equipment to power feeding efforts. Trailers of kitchen supplies are on the ground to support 16 kitchens, each able to produce 10,000 meals a day.
• Donations pay for the more than 215 emergency response vehicles activated to help deliver meals and relief supplies.
• Donations pay to support the mental health and health services professionals who support and care for evacuees - some 26,000 contacts have been made.
• Donations pay for relief items like diapers and comfort kits that contain deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items for people forced from their homes - 36,000 have been distributed so far and this number will grow as people are able to return home.
• More than 23 million hurricane and flood alerts have been issued through Red Cross mobile apps since August 23, well surpassing the 6 million issued for Superstorm Sandy. The apps provide shelter locations and real-time information so people can help protect themselves and their loved-ones.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross, a United Way agency, 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.