Red Cross Begins Large Relief Operation for Irene

Aug 28, 2011, 12:28 ET from American Red Cross

Widespread Flooding in Multiple States as Storm Moves North

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 27,000 people spent Saturday night in shelters opened or supported by the American Red Cross as Hurricane Irene moved up the East Coast. The storm is shaping up to become a large flood relief operation and thousands of people across multiple states have already turned to the Red Cross for help.

(Logo: )

"Our main focus right now is providing people with a safe place to stay and food to eat," said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. "There have been mandatory evacuations all along the East Coast and millions are without power because of this hurricane."

While it is too early to know the full extent of the storm's damage, the Red Cross expects to be helping people for the next several weeks.

The Red Cross has relief operations ongoing in more than a dozen states and thousands of disaster workers helping people from North Carolina to New England. Every Red Cross feeding truck east of the Rocky Mountains - more than 250 - are set to go into neighborhoods as soon as conditions permit. Tens of thousands of pre-packaged meals are in position, and the Red Cross is working with its community partners to have feeding kitchens in place after the storm moves through.

"This is a big response involving multiple states and the response will cost millions," Shimanski said. If people would like to help, they can click or text to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Donations can be made by visiting or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent to someone's local Red Cross chapter or mailed to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Irene has already caused the cancellation of more than 50 blood drives, adding up to a loss of approximately 1,500 blood donations along the East Coast. Because each donation can be made into as many as three blood products, this translates to approximately 4,500 blood products not being available for patients who need them. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please call 1-800-RED CROSS or go to

Those affected by the storm can let friends and family know where they are by registering on the Red Cross Safe and Well website at They can also call a family member or friend with internet access and ask them to do their registration.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

SOURCE American Red Cross