WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Hurricane Matthew continued its path of destruction up the southeast coast, the American Red Cross expanded its massive sheltering effort to span five states. More than 13,400 people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Virginia woke up Sunday morning in 248 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters.
"Matthew isn't done with us yet. In North Carolina, the storm is causing deadly flooding and we have safe shelters open where conditions permit," said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. "Our first priority is keeping people safe. We anticipate flooding may continue for days in the Carolinas and we are working with the entire response community to make everyone safely gets the help they need."
HUNDREDS OF BLOOD, PLATELET DONATIONS GO UNCOLLECTED
As flooding from Hurricane Matthew inundates the Carolinas, the storm continues to impact the nation's blood supply. So far, Hurricane Matthew has forced the cancellation of approximately 40 Red Cross blood drives in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia resulting in more than 1,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. More cancellations are likely along the Southeast coast of the U.S. as floodwaters ravage many areas.
The need for platelets is especially critical due to the loss of these donations in affected areas. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in demand.
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).
U.S. DISASTER RESPONSE
North Carolina is facing power outages and record-breaking flooding. Overnight there were 80 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters open with more than 4,000 people. In South Carolina, 61 evacuation shelters were open overnight with more than 4,500 people. In Florida, many people have returned home but overnight there were 72 shelters open with more than 340 people seeking refuge. Evacuation shelters are transitioning to disaster shelters for people who can't return home and kitchens are operating today to provide meals for those affected. In Georgia, 34 evacuation shelters were open with more than 4,500 people. As the storm moved north into Virginia, there were 25 people in a shelter overnight.
A total of more than 2,700 Red Cross disaster workers are supporting relief efforts. The Red Cross has also mobilized 133 response vehicles, 3 kitchens and 97 trailers filled with water, ready-to-eat meals, shelter and kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellent, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more. The Red Cross is working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate response efforts to ensure people receive the help they need as quickly as possible.
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. Learn more about the Red Cross response to Hurricane Matthew here.
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.
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 now 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. Given 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 as soon as possible.
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.
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