Red Cross providing food, shelter along East Coast for residents fleeing Dorian

Also committing an initial $2M to help Bahamas
Bahamas Situation Dire, Damage Hampering Relief Efforts;
Blood Donors Outside Storm Area Asked to Give

September 6, 2019- The American Red Cross has mounted a major response to help people in Hurricane Dorian’s destructive path.

An initial $2 million has been committed to assist in meeting the immediate needs of those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, while continuing to provide shelter and food to thousands of people in the United States.

The storm left unbelievable devastation behind in the Bahamas. Abaco and Grand Bahama were particularly hard hit. Initial aerial assessments show widespread devastation to the islands, from destroyed homes to contaminated water sources.

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Jenelle Eli, director, International Communications for the American Red Cross, has deployed to the area and reports the situation is dire, especially on Abaco. Video footage of Abaco shows total obliteration of portions of the island and large areas completely covered by water. Thousands are in need of food and water.

“Our relief operation is growing, but we are also facing serious challenges in terms of delivering aid,” Eli reports. “These challenges include damaged airports and destroyed telecommunications networks. Even search-and-rescue choppers haven’t been able to reach some people because there’s no place to land. These challenges are affecting everyone.”

A rapid assessment and response team is currently focusing on emergency shelter and urgent needs. Relief supplies to support temporary shelter needs of 1,500 families are in country. Red Cross shelter and other sector specialists are on the ground to provide immediate relief while conducting assessments, and search and rescues is a current priority while the full scope and scale of needs is still being determined. Red Cross volunteers and staff will also distribute meals and food rations to people who may have gone without food in days.

Eli, a native of Northeast Ohio,  continued, “People I spoke to on Abaco today told some pretty horrific stories. Every person I spoke to lost their home. They each had a story about trying to hold their roofs down in the high winds and then running from neighbor’s home to neighbor’s home seeking safety. But each home they sought shelter in got destroyed too. They said that the most damaged areas are decimated.”

Eli reported those she spoke with all echoed this sentiment: “How am I going to start over? This is going to be so hard.” Many of them didn’t know the fate of their loved ones. And they worry that their family members fear them dead since they haven’t been in touch. See more in this video.

The International Federation of the Red Cross has announced an emergency appeal for $3.2 million to support the Bahamas Red Cross as it responds to the storm.

Hurricane Dorian 2019

September 5, 2019. Jacksonville, Florida. American Red Cross nurse Jana Cearlock coaxes hugs and smiles from 2-year old Karmin Nelson, a resident, along with her great-grandmother at the Legends Center evacuation shelter in Jacksonville, Florida.  Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

On Thursday night, more than 5,600 people stayed in 112 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.  To date, the Red Cross and community organizations have provided nearly 37,000 cumulative overnight stays for Hurricane Dorian.

The Red Cross has mobilized more than 2,700 trained responders from all over the country, including 19 volunteers from Northeast Ohio, to assist in hurricane affected areas.

One of the Northeast Ohio disaster volunteers deployed to assist with Hurricane Dorian is Tom Quinn of Wadsworth.

Volunteers constitute 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce. Volunteers make it possible to respond to an average of more than 62,000 disasters every year, most of them home fires. Disaster services volunteers provide food, shelter, comfort and care for families affected by major disasters such as fire, hurricanes and tornadoes.

While deployed to Florida, Tom assisted at an emergency evacuation shelter at Evans High School in Orlando, FL. One day, Tom selflessly took it upon himself to play with and entertain children living in the shelter to help give them a sense of normalcy during the difficult moment.

Volunteer mental health and health services professionals have also provided more than 10,000 contacts to provide support and care to people affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Along with partners and community organizations, the Red Cross has served more than 85,000 meals and snacks.

In advance of Dorian, the Red Cross has also deployed 110 emergency response vehicles (ERVs), including two ERVs from Northeast Ohio, and 104 tractor trailers loaded full of relief supplies, including cots, blankets and 63,000 ready-to-eat meals to help people in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

LOOKING FOR A LOVED ONE?

People concerned about US Citizens traveling in Bahamas should contact the US State Department Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You can make a difference in the lives of people impacted by Hurricane Dorian in both the U.S. and the Bahamas. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. In the U.S., this includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD

Hurricane Dorian has forced the cancellation of approximately 70 Red Cross blood drives and donation centers in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia resulting in more than 1,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations. We urge eligible individuals in unaffected areas to give blood or platelets to ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients. The Red Cross currently has an urgent need for blood donations following a summer shortage. In addition to cancelled blood drives, we anticipate low blood donor turnout in and around affected areas due to poor weather conditions this week. Schedule an appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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.

Get ready for emergencies during National Preparedness Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

August 30, 2019- Are you ready for an extended power outage? Could you, for example, provide your family with food and water for two weeks if the unthinkable happened?

As Hurricane Dorian approaches the southeast coast of the U.S., with potentially 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in need of emergency shelter, the importance of getting prepared for any possible emergency is clear.

preparedness month 1

Most Clevelanders don’t expect a hurricane. But do you remember the power grid problems that once plagued us, right here in Northern Ohio?

Think back to August 2003

Eight U.S. states and Ontario, Canada, were left without power for up to two weeks when a power grid failure started outside Cleveland, Ohio, on Aug. 14, 2003. One of the first, dire side effects in Cleveland was that people in higher elevations would only have a three-hour supply of water.

Electric pumps could not deliver replacement water to the municipal water towers. Gas pumps did not work. Elevators did not work. Traffic lights did not work. Cash registers did not work. ATMs did not work. Business came to a halt.

Stores in my neighborhood were sold out of water and batteries in less than three hours; and they only accepted buyers with cash.

It was 14 days before all 55 million affected residents had their power restored. How would you fare if that happened today?

In honor of National Preparedness Month this September, we propose five simple tips to get ready:

  1. We are so dependent on our cellphones that you really need to consider having a backup battery source. Keeping a charged, high-capacity battery pack, like one of these, can recharge your phone multiple times.
  2. Personal emergency lights like the Red Cross Blackout Buddy are always charged and can provide a nightlight option.
  3. Do you know how to open your garage door if the power goes out? Most garage doors are controlled by an automatic garage door opener, which won’t work without electricity. However, just about all have a pull chain or cord that will release the door so you can operate it manually. Learn how it works before the power goes out.
  4. If a power surge hits your home, it could fry your computer’s hard drive and you could lose all your documents and photos. Do you keep copies of important items “in the cloud” on one of the free online storage applications like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Backup and Sync? Even if your computer is destroyed or lost, those files will always be available at a later date if stored in the cloud.
  5. Portable camp stoves come in a variety of sizes and prices. Having one on hand is great if you need to boil water for baby bottles or to make coffee or oatmeal. Many have multiple burners that can cook entire dinners. Use only outside with good ventilation.

If you’ve read this far – congratulations. To be even better prepared, watch the video, download the   and read more here. The question isn’t, “Could it happen again?” The question is, “When will it happen again?” However, the most important question is, “Will you be ready?”

Edited Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer