WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross is launching a massive response to Hurricane Irma from the U.S. Virgin Islands through Florida and the mid-Atlantic region as the storm nears the United States. While Florida is in the direct path of the storm, Hurricane Irma could affect areas inland and the East Coast into next week.
Hurricane Irma is a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds and could bring as much as 20 inches of rain and several feet of dangerous storm surges. The storm is expected to make landfall in Florida late Saturday and into early Sunday morning, with effects expected to last throughout the day. Millions of people are under evacuation orders in Florida and Georgia. Governors in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have issued states of emergency for all three states, which could face impact from the storm sometime next week – the Red Cross is also monitoring the storm in those states, and is prepared to respond if necessary. Response efforts will be coordinated in close collaboration with government officials and community partners in multiple states.
Throughout Florida, preparations are being finalized to get supplies and trained workers in place to support sheltering and relief efforts. This includes mobilizing hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers and deploying truckloads of relief supplies. Millions of Floridians face evacuation orders, so there are 27 shelters already open, where almost 1,680 people spent last night. More evacuation shelters have opened today and more will open throughout the weekend. Evacuation shelters typically are only meant to house people for 12-24 hours, until the storm moves through. Shelters are also opening in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama to help people evacuating from the storm.
Almost 560 Red Cross disaster workers are in Florida now, with more than 380 additional relief workers on the way.
Trailers of shelter supplies with enough cots and blankets for 120,000 people are on the way to help those impacted by Irma.
In addition, 120,000 ready-to-eat meals and as many as 120 emergency response vehicles are being mobilized.
The Red Cross has pre-positioned additional blood products and stocked many hospital partners to capacity in areas of the Southeast likely to be impacted by the storm over the upcoming days. The Red Cross is also prepared to send more blood products as needed to ensure patient needs continue to be met. Ahead of the storm, Red Cross employees are also preparing facilities and equipment in case of power outages by ensuring back-up generators are working properly and vehicles are fueled. Through its national inventory system, the Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to wherever and whenever it is needed most.
In Puerto Rico, more than a million people are without power. The Red Cross provided comfort, blankets and hygiene items for families in the shelters. Today, Red Cross disaster workers will work on damage assessment. More than 120 people spent Thursday night in 8 shelters.
In the Caribbean: Hurricane Irma has already cut a swath of destruction through several Caribbean nations and territories as it heads toward the United States. The American Red Cross is one of many Red Cross societies responding, even as the domestic response is underway. Heavy damage is reported on the U.S. Virgin Islands, including to a hospital on St. Thomas. Patients are being evacuated by helicopter. Many are without power and water. Almost 300 people spent Thursday night in 6 shelters.
Hurricane Safety Find a shelter by visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App also puts real time information about the storm and hurricane safety tips at your fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Three key safety steps to use for this disaster:
Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
Build an emergency kit that contains supplies for about three days.
Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe to do so.
Safe and Well The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available and open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876. Messages exist in both Spanish and English. To speak with someone at the American Red Cross concerning a missing friend or relative, please contact 1-800 Red Cross.
How to Help The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
CORPORATIONS HELP The generous donations from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and the Disaster Responder Program enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters big and small, respond whenever and wherever disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.
ADGP $1 Million members are: American Airlines; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Anthem Foundation; Bank of America; Caterpillar Foundation; The Clorox Company; Costco Wholesale; Delta Air Lines; Disney; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; FedEx; General Motors Foundation; Grainger; The Home Depot Foundation; LDS Charities; Lowe's Companies, Inc.; Mazda North American Operations; Microsoft Corp.; Nationwide Foundation; PepsiCo Foundation; State Farm; Target; UPS; VSP Global; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; and The Wawa Foundation.
ADGP $500,000 members are: Altria Group; American Express; Aon; Boise Paper; Capital One; Cisco Foundation; Citi Foundation; Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation; Discover; Edison International; Farmers Insurance; Ford Motor Company; Humble Bundle; International Paper; John Deere Foundation; Johnson Controls; McDonald's Corporation; Medtronic Foundation; Meijer; Merck Foundation; Mondelēz International Foundation; Procter & Gamble Company; Reynolds American Foundation; Ryder; Southwest Airlines; Sunoco; TD Ameritrade; The TJX Companies, Inc.; United Airlines; and Wells Fargo.
Disaster Responder Program members are: Adobe; Alcoa; Alliance Data; Astellas USA Foundation; AT&T; AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; AXA; The Ball Foundation; BMW of North America; BNY Mellon; CarMax; Cox Automotive; Duke Energy; Entergy Corporation; Harbor Freight Tools Foundation; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation; HP Foundation; IBM Corporation; IHG Foundation; Ingersoll Rand Foundation; The J.M. Smucker Company; Land O'Lakes, Inc.; Mastercard; Morgan Stanley; Neiman Marcus Group; New Balance Foundation; Northrop Grumman Corporation; Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation; Prudential Foundation; SC Johnson; SERVPRO; Southeastern Grocers Home of BI-LO Harveys Winn Dixie; Standard Textile; Toyota; U-Haul International; United Technologies Corporation; The USAA Foundation; U.S. Bank; and Visa.
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.