WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Hurricane Matthew nears the southeast coast of the United States, the American Red Cross is on the ground helping people who are in the path of this life-threatening storm.
As many as 3,600 people spent Wednesday night in 84 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. This number is expected to grow as Matthew closes in on the United States and evacuation orders continue to be issued.
RED CROSS RESPONSE In addition to shelters, the Red Cross has more than 500 disaster workers and 90 response vehicles ready to help in the affected states and more help is standing by. The Red Cross has also prepositioned more than 30 trailer loads of shelter supplies, ready-to-eat meals, clean-up and comfort kits. The Red Cross is closely monitoring the storm and working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to make sure people get the help they need.
"We cannot emphasize how dangerous Hurricane Matthew is," said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. "The Red Cross has shelters open now in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. We urge everyone in the storm's path to finish their preparations and listen to local officials if told to evacuate."
"Hurricane Matthew could leave widespread devastation in its wake and untold amounts of need for food, shelter and help," continued Kieserman. "This is a time for neighbors and communities to come together and support one another. We are proud to stand alongside and partners to serve those in need of our help."
If someone needs to find a shelter, they can visit redcross.org, check the Red Cross Emergency App or call 1-800-768-8048. Anyone who plans to stay in a Red Cross shelter should bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. They should also include any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.
HAITI RESPONSE There are approximately one million people currently in shelters in Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. The overwhelming number of these is in Cuba. There are 20 confirmed deaths in Haiti, where 80 percent of all homes in the western part of Haiti have been damaged. Extensive flooding continues, which is leading to fears of cholera, as well as damaging crops, agriculture and livelihoods. Fortunately, the airports have reopened, allowing for the UN to fly in much-needed supplies.
Working with our partners, Red Cross staff will continue to work throughout the affected Caribbean to deliver much-needed humanitarian supplies, relief, and care.
BLOOD DRIVE CANCELLATIONS CLIMB Red Cross blood drive cancellations have more than doubled in the past 24 hours as the storm nears. Already, Hurricane Matthew has forced the cancellation of approximately 30 Red Cross blood drives in Georgia and South Carolina resulting in nearly 1,200 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. Dozens of additional blood drive cancellations are possible along the southern East Coast depending on the path and impact of the storm.
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. If donation centers are forced to close over the next few days, the Red Cross is at risk of being unable to collect more than 100 additional platelet donations.
We strongly encourage eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by the storm to please give blood or platelets 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).
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP Everyone should download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on their mobile device, including emergency weather alerts, preparedness information and shelter locations. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HURRICANE SAFETY People living in the path of the hurricane should listen to local officials and obey any evacuation orders. Other safety steps include:
- Know your evacuation route.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind.
- Close doors, windows and hurricane shutters. If someone doesn't have shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
- Fill the car's gas tank.
- Avoid flooded roads and bridges. Turn around, don't drown.
MAKE A DONATION The work of the American Red Cross starts long before a hurricane makes landfall in the United States. For example, we have warehouses stocked with disaster relief supplies, thousands of trained workers, and more than 320 mobile response vehicles on standby year-round to be ready to help people in need. If we didn't maintain these resources 24/7, we couldn't get help to people in a timely fashion—but we depend on donations from the American public to be ready.
Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
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