Red Cross: 27,000+ in Evacuation Shelters as Hurricane Matthew Hits Florida

Red Cross evacuation shelters
Red Cross evacuation shelter. (SUPPLIED)

Storm Cancels Blood Drives; Local Red Cross workers and emergency response vehicles deployed from Northern Illinois

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The American Red Cross has launched a massive sheltering operation in response to Hurricane Matthew with more than 27,000 people seeking refuge in almost 200 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters across three states Thursday night. This included 133 shelters in Florida with more than 22,000 people; 18 shelters in Georgia with more than 2,100 people; and 47 shelters in South Carolina with more than 2,500 people.

“We’ve prepositioned trained volunteers, response vehicles and trailer loads of supplies in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, but now is the time for folks to stay safe and listen to emergency officials,” saidCelena Roldán, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “The life-threatening storm surge, intense winds and heavy rain could cause widespread devastation and recovery challenges that can’t be handled by just one organization. This is a time for neighbors and communities to come together and support one another—and the Red Cross is proud to be one of many organizations providing help.”

RED CROSS RESPONSE: DISASTER WORKERS, EVACUATION SHELTERS

More than 1,800 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground or traveling to the southeast to support evacuation shelters and response efforts. Up to five local Red Cross workers from Northern Illinois have been deployed to Florida and South Carolina and more are expected to be assigned in the days and weeks ahead.

Michael Landt of Schaumburg and James Boyle of Morrison Red Cross evacuation shelters
Michael Landt of Schaumburg and James Boyle of Morrison left today in a Red Cross emergency response vehicle. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Michael Landt of Schaumburg and James Boyle of Morrison left in a Red Cross emergency response vehicle. They are driving 16 hours and 1,000 miles from Chicago to Tallahassee, Florida where the vehicle will aid disaster response efforts to mobilize supplies such as cots, blankets, food and other relief items once it arrives in communities affected by the storm. Donated by Astellas in 2015, the Next Generation vehicle is part of the local fleet that provides ample storage room for supplies and meals, and is adjustable to the needs of disasters big and small.

In addition to providing a safe place to ride out the dangerous storm, the Red Cross is preparing to deliver relief supplies and help people recover from Matthew as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Red Cross has deployed numerous emergency response vehicles and 35 trailers filled with items like water, ready-to-eat meals, shelter and kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more. The Red Cross is also working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to make sure people get the help they need. A Next Generation emergency response vehicle from the Chicago fleet was deployed by two volunteers today.

If someone needs to find a shelter, they can visit redcross.org, check the Red Cross Emergency App or call 1-800-768-8048. Anyone who plans to stay in a Red Cross shelter should bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. They should also include any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.

HAITI RESPONSE

The American Red Cross is working closely with the Haitian Red Cross to assess the extent of damage from Hurricane Matthew and get much-needed supplies to people in need. Three American Red Cross teams in Haiti pre-deployed to the affected areas are currently distributing a first round of life-saving relief supplies, including hygiene (cooking) kits, and cholera-prevention kits.

Destruction in the affected area has complicated transit and communications, however initial assessments indicate major needs are shelter, clean water, sanitation and disease prevention related to water-borne illnesses such as cholera, dengue and Zika. Additional relief supplies, such as water purification products, shelter kits, and mosquito nets are being procured locally and internationally. American Red Cross National Headquarters is deploying Disaster Response Specialists, generators, and telecommunications equipment to better support the 200 American Red Cross staff in Haiti to accelerate aid and response efforts.

URGENT NEED FOR BLOOD, PLATELET DONATIONS

As the storm barrels into the United States, the Red Cross is unable to collect blood and platelets in many areas along the Southeast coast. So far, Hurricane Matthew has forced the cancellation of approximately 30 Red Cross blood drives in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina resulting in nearly 1,300 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. The Red Cross is likely to experience additional cancellations in the days ahead as the storm moves north.

The Red Cross is particularly concerned about the loss of platelet donations in affected areas. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five daysof donation and, therefore, are always in demand.

In parts of the country unaffected by the storm, the Red Cross strongly urges eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP Everyone should download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on their mobile device, including emergency weather alerts, preparedness information and shelter locations. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

HURRICANE SAFETY

People living in the path of the hurricane should listen to local officials and obey any evacuation orders. As the storm passes, folks should stay informed by listening to local news or a NOAA weather radio for updates. Other safety steps include:

  • Watch for extended rainfall and flooding.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoided flooded roads and bridges.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Report them to the power company.
  • Use flashlights in the dark, not candles.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Watch animals closely, keep them under your direct control.

MAKE A DONATION

The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew in the U.S. by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

About the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois:

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois serves 9.5 million people in 21 counties in Northern Illinois including Boone, Bureau, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will and Winnebago. 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 us at redcross.org/il/chicago or visit us on Twitter at @ChicagoRedCross and @RedCross.