Local volunteers preparing to help residents affected by Dorian

Hurricane Dorian made landfall Sunday afternoon in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm leaving behind catastrophic damage—from destroyed homes to contaminated water sources. While a complete picture of the damage isn’t available yet, it’s clear the storm is dealing a devastating blow to families on the islands.

Bahamas Red Cross volunteers and pre-positioned relief supplies—such as tarps, hygiene items, jerrycans, and hand-crank cell phone chargers—are at the ready.

Hurricane Dorian 2019

September 1, 2019. Orlando, Florida. Seven-year-old Deshawa hold his sister, 1-year-old Keelen, while talking with a Red Cross worker at the Evans High School evacuation center. The children’s family came to the evacuation center to escape the expected high winds and torrential rainfall associated with Hurricane Dorian. Photo credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

In the U.S., the American Red Cross is preparing to help tens of thousands of people in the path of Hurricane Dorian as the extremely dangerous storm tracks towards the southeast coast. While the exact path of Dorian is still uncertain, millions of people live in areas that could be impacted by wind, rain, flooding and a high storm surge, even if the storm doesn’t make direct landfall on the coast.

The Red Cross is coordinating with community partners and emergency responders to prepare evacuation centers as planning estimates indicate as many as 60,000 people in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina may need help. Sunday night, some 2,600 people sought refuge in 60 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Florida. We are mobilizing over 1,600 trained volunteers from all over the country, including 14 from Northeast Ohio.

Media coverage of Red Cross volunteers preparing to deploy on Sunday was extensive

Two emergency response vehicles from the region are among the 110 vehicles being deployed, and 99 tractor-trailer loads full of relief supplies, including cots, blankets and 63,000 ready-to-eat meals are on the way.

While the Red Cross does not typically collect and distribute blood in Florida, we have sent approximately 350 blood products to local blood centers there to ensure patients in need continue to have access to lifesaving blood. The Red Cross has also pre-positioned additional blood products and stocked many of our hospitals to capacity in areas of the Southeast likely to be impacted by the storm early next week.

It’s Not Over – Florence Flooding Continues in the Carolinas

The threat from Hurricane Florence is far from over as rivers continue to rise in the Carolinas and extremely dangerous flooding is still occurring. Getting help into affected areas is challenging, and will be for some time.  One of the four crews deployed in an Emergency Response Vehicle from Northeast Ohio had to spend the night in a fire house in Marion, South Carolina on Monday, after rising waters cut off their return route.

Some Red Cross workers are finding creative ways to deliver relief to residents stranded by floodwaters, as you can see in this video.

  • Some 18 counties in North Carolina are still under evacuation orders and water rescues are continuing.
  • Nearly 1,000 roads are closed and as many as 220,000 people are without power. Many gas stations are still closed due to power outages and a lack of fuel.

This is a heartbreaking and dangerous situation, and the American Red Cross is working around the clock to provide safe shelter and comfort for the hundreds of thousands of people impacted.

  • The Red Cross is mobilizing more than 140 emergency response vehicles, including 4 from Northeast Ohio, and more than 110 trailers of equipment and supplies, including meals and enough cots and blankets for more than 100,000 people.
  • The Red Cross is working with the National Guard, U.S. Army and other partners to transport disaster workers and supplies to areas in need. On Tuesday, about 40 Red Cross volunteers were flown on military helicopters into areas cut off by flood waters.
  • The Red Cross is working with dozens of partners to support feeding, sheltering, transportation and other disaster services.

Due to Hurricane Florence, nearly 200 blood drives have been forced to cancel, resulting in over 5,200 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

  • We expect additional blood drive cancellations over the coming days, with fewer blood and platelet donors available to give at drives in and around affected areas due to flooding and poor weather conditions.

About 2,800 Red Cross disaster workers, including about four dozen from Northeast Ohio, have been mobilized to help feed, shelter, and support people affected by Florence and the subsequent flooding.

To help support the disaster relief operation, Fox 8 in Cleveland will be broadcasting live reports on Thursday, September 20, from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm.  The station will be promoting a Hurricane Florence disaster relief hotline number, giving viewers the chance to make a donation over the phone.  Donations can also be made online at 1-800 RED CROSS, or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.