SAVANNAH — With communities from North Carolina to New England suffering from significant flooding, wind damage and widespread power outages from Hurricane Irene, the American Red Cross is responding with shelter, food and other assistance.
“The storm may be over, but our work is far from done,” said Gail McGovern, Red Cross president and CEO. “We expect this disaster relief operation to be a very large operation that will continue for several weeks.”
Saturday night, the Red Cross was operating in more than 500 shelters, providing shelter for more than 27,000 people, and still had 300 shelters open for 8,000 people Sunday night. Since Friday, the Red Cross has provided more than 48,000 overnight shelter stays. The Red Cross has also arranged to procure approximately 1.3 million meals through various vendors in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York.
McGovern and Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of disaster services, spoke about the Red Cross response and its plans during an afternoon media briefing. Both cited the need for donations for the Red Cross relief operation, which will likely cost millions.
In addition to noting the need for financial donations to the Red Cross for the disaster operation, McGovern also noted that the Red Cross was in need of another kind of donation as well: blood donations are needed now.
“Supplies before the storm were already tight, as they are every summer, and Irene caused the cancellation of 60 blood drives along the East Coast, resulting in a shortfall of more than 2,100 units of blood,” McGovern said. “We’re expecting these numbers to go up due to storm damage in many locations, which will cause more canceled blood drives.”
The Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations in areas that were not affected by this storm, and is also asking community members in affected areas to consider donating blood once it is safe to go out. If people want to schedule an appointment, they can go online at www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Those who want to help can click or text to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Donations can be made by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent to local Red Cross chapters or mailed to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.