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.

Smoke Alarm Requests Spike

Red Cross, Partners Hard at Work to Fulfill Requests Following Fatal Akron Fire

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating fire in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood on Saturday, December 3, hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents called the Red Cross to request free smoke alarms.

The Red Cross offers free smoke alarms, free installation, and free home fire safety inspections for every residence in need in Northeast Ohio.  This initiative, known locally as Operation Save-A-Life, began in Cleveland in 1992.  It has since been rolled out nationwide, with the goal of reducing serious injury and death due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

On Tuesday, December 6, the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department went door-to-door in the neighborhood where the fatal fire occured, offering to install smoke alarms in every home.  Many media outlets covered the effort, including the Akron Beacon Journal, WEWS, WJW, and WOIO.

“It’s very unfortunate that it takes something like this for the community to say, ‘Yes, we need smoke detectors,’ ” Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter told the ABJ.

If your home doesn’t have a working smoke alarm on every floor, log onto the Operation Save-A-Life page on the Red Cross website, or call 330-535-2030 in theAkron area, 216-361-5535 in Greater Cleveland, or 866-319-7160 in the Youngstown area.