WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross is responding as Tropical Storm Hermine slams into Florida and Georgia today and is preparing to widen the relief response as the storm threatens communities all along the East Coast over the holiday weekend.
CRITICAL NEED FOR BLOOD, PLATELET DONATIONS CONTINUES
Hermine has forced the cancellation of several Red Cross blood drives and may cause more in the days ahead. Even before the storm formed, the Red Cross was already experiencing a blood shortage as the summer months – and particularly during Labor Day weekend – are a difficult time to collect blood. All blood types are urgently needed right now.
"It's important to remember that the blood already on the shelves helps during a disaster," said Chris Hrouda, executive vice president of Red Cross Blood Services. "We depend on generous volunteer blood donors to provide lifesaving blood for those in need – each and every day – not only during times of disaster. If you are not in the path of the storm, please give."
To prepare for the storm, the Red Cross moved blood products into areas most likely to be affected to ensure blood products would be available in the event of widespread flooding. In the South, Hermine has cancelled at least seven blood drives in Georgia and South Carolina, causing approximately 330 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.
RED CROSS RESPONSE
"We have shelters open in Florida and Georgia and workers on alert all the way up the East Coast to be ready if needed as the storm moves north," said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. "We urge people in Hermine's path to get ready; to build a disaster kit and make their evacuation plans now."
"It's the last holiday weekend of the summer and many folks are heading to the beaches," Kieserman continued. "They should stay informed about weather conditions and be aware of possible rip current dangers."
Red Cross workers in Florida and Georgia opened 46 shelters where almost 550 people spent Thursday night. The Red Cross is helping officials with damage assessment in those states to determine what additional help is needed. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power and many schools closed due to heavy rain and downed trees.
Hermine is expected to move up the East Coast over the holiday weekend and stall in the Atlantic Ocean near Delaware and New Jersey. Red Cross chapters all along the coast are monitoring the storm and have workers and shelter locations on stand-by. The storm will bring heavy rain and strong winds, along with powerful storm surges in the ocean which could cause beach erosion and flooding.
In Hawaii, Hurricane Lester is predicted to hit Maui and Oahu over the weekend with strong gales and heavy rain. The Red Cross has disaster workers and supplies on alert to respond if necessary.
FIND SAFETY INFORMATION People in Hermine's path can find information on how to remain safe on the Red Cross web site. They should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of hurricanes, flooding and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The app also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HOW TO HELP All eligible blood donors in parts of the country unaffected by Hermine are encouraged to make a blood or platelet donation appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
People can also help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small. You can help by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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SOURCE American Red Cross