Thousands of people across nine states took refuge from Hurricane Sandy in American Red Cross shelters Sunday night as the massive storm neared the East Coast.
More than 3,200 people spent the night in 112 Red Cross shelters in nine states - New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Massachusetts.The number of people going to shelters is expected to grow as the storm comes ashore.
If shelters are needed in the Mohawk Valley due to flooding or power outages, the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has shelters on standby for residents of Oneida, Herkimer and Otsego counties. The Mohawk Valley Chapter is also mobilizing volunteers, relief supplies and disaster vehicles, and working with county emergency management officials who are aware that Red Cross resources are available.
The Red Cross has deployed more than 1,300 disaster workers from all over the country to help those already affected by the storm. As many as 160 emergency vehicles are ready to respond when it is safe to do so, and more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals have been sent into the affected areas.
"Sandy is a large and dangerous storm, and will affect large parts of the eastern part of the country for the next few days," said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. "We urge people to remain in a safe place until it passes, and to listen to instructions from local officials."
People can also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.
BLOOD DRIVES CANCELLEDMeanwhile, nearly 100 Red Cross blood drives have already been cancelled due to the storm, and there could be more as the week goes on. This means a loss of as many as 3,200 blood and platelet products. If anyone is eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, they are asked to please schedule a blood donation now.
"Patients will still need blood despite the weather," said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer of the Red Cross. "To ensure a sufficient national blood supply is available for those in need, both during and after the storm passes, it is critical that those in unaffected areas make an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible."
To schedule a blood donation or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.orgor call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.
HOW TO HELP "This will be a large, costly relief response and the Red Cross needs help now," Shimanski said. "People can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief online, by text or by phone."
Financial donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone's local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
RED CROSS APPSMore than 235,000 people have downloaded the free Red Cross Hurricane App Friday when Sandy began approaching, making it one of the most popular free apps. The app gives up-to-date weather alerts, information on open Red Cross shelters, a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm and a one-touch "I'm Safe"button that lets someone use social media outlets to let family and friends know they are okay.
People have been using the app to find shelters, to set up locations for the app to monitor, to make a disaster plan, and learn what steps they can take to stay safe. The app is available in Spanish just by changing the smart phone setting to Spanish before downloading.
The First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in a person's hand. Both the Hurricane and First Aid apps can be found in the Apple App Storeand theGoogle Play Storefor Android by searching for American Red Cross.
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.orgor join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.