BUFFALO, NY, August 25th, 2011 –(release) Hurricane Irene is headed toward the East Coast and the American Red Cross is mobilizing disaster workers and equipment along much of the eastern seaboard to help those in the path of this powerful storm. Three people from the American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties are currently preparing to travel to areas in the storm’s predicted path before it makes landfall to assist in the emergency response efforts.
Sr. Director of Emergency Services Ken Turner will be travelling to New York City, where he will serve as an on-site coordinator for the Red Cross operations there. The Buffalo resident will be joined in New York City by volunteer Michael Hoplight of Niagara Falls, who will assist in preparing and operating shelters for those affected by the storm. In addition, Peggy McGee-Smith of Kenmore will be deploying to Massachusetts. McGee-Smith is an experienced Disaster Mental Health volunteer who travelled to Joplin, Missouri in May to provide counseling to those affected by a devastating tornado. Other volunteers are preparing to deploy to the affected regions if needed.
Meantime, staff from the American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties has put potential shelters on standby for this weekend should evacuees need to be sent to this area, or should people become stranded due to travel complications caused by Hurricane Irene. Local staff and Disaster Action Team volunteers are being contacted to make sure the Red Cross is prepared to respond if necessary.
Hurricane Irene is predicted to be the largest storm to hit the East Coast in more than 70 years, and could threaten several big population centers. A hurricane watch has been issued for the North Carolina coast and the Red Cross has opened shelters in the state as evacuation orders go into effect. In addition, more than 200 Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles are heading towards the coast to help people in the path of the storm.
Dozens of shelters are being prepared all along the East Coast. People can find open Red Cross shelters by viewing an interactive Google map at www.redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross shelter app for their iPhone from the iTunes store. A mobile-friendly version of the Hurricane Safety Checklist is now available for smart phone users to download at www.redcross.org/mobile.
American Red Cross disaster preparedness starts long before a hurricane makes landfall, beginning with keeping supplies and equipment on stand-by all year to help people in need. On average, the Red Cross spends about $450 million on disaster relief every year. If someone would like to support Red Cross disaster efforts, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or sending contributions to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.