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Red Cross continues to operate 2 storm shelters; opens blood donor centers

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Posted at 11:37 AM, Nov 21, 2014
and last updated 2015-11-16 11:29:55-05

Severe winter weather in the Buffalo area has forced the cancellation of approximately 40 American Red Cross blood drives, resulting in more than 1,000 blood and platelet donations going uncollected over the past several days.

As residents dig out and it is considered safe to travel, the American Red Cross encourages eligible blood and platelet donors to make an appointment to donate.

“It is the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits, and thanks to those who gave in the days and weeks before, the blood supply is currently sufficient,” said Kay E. Schwartz, CEO of the New York-Penn Blood Services Region. “Donations now will help ensure the Red Cross blood supply continues to be sufficient and we’re prepared when severe weather hits again this winter.”

Blood donors of all types – especially those with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood – and platelet donors are needed. To schedule an appointment to donate, download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Local blood donation centers re-opening Saturday, November 22:

Buffalo Blood Donation Center

7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

786 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209

Transitown Blood Donation Center

7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

4267 Transit Road, Williamsville, NY 14221

The American Red Cross says another 122 people spent the night Thursday in shelters the organization set up in western New York to aid people displaced by the massive lake-effect snow storm.

As state and local officials have begun to reopen the NYS Thruway and other roads, and begun to lift travel bans, the locations at the Alexander Fireman’s Recreation Hall, the Lackawanna Senior Center and the Ripley Fire Hall have been able to close. With the help of emergency officials and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), residents of the shelter at the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church have been transferred to the Iroquois Middle School. The Red Cross would like to thank all of these locations as well as emergency officials from across Western New York for their support during this response.

Staff and volunteers remain in contact with emergency officials from across Western New York, and additional shelter locations have been put on standby in anticipation of potential flooding in coming days. The Red Cross also continues to support relief operations being run by other organizations, including providing food, water, blankets and cots at Erie Community College North Campus to support visiting firefighters.

Although some roads have begun to reopen, residents are urged to continue to follow any posted road closures and travel advisories. The Red Cross urges caution as people begin digging out following this unprecedented snowfall. When shoveling, take frequent breaks to guard against over-exertion or back injury. If using a snow blower, keep hands and feet clear of moving parts. If there is a fire hydrant on the property, clear the snow around the hydrant so it is accessible in the event of fire. Additional winter storm safety tips are available at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm.

The American Red Cross so far has aided more than 420 people since the storm hit Lake Erie's eastern shore starting on Monday. The total includes the 122 people who spent Thursday night at shelters.

The shelters still open are:

  • Goodell Hall (3 residents). 12847 Erie Street, Irving
  • Iroquois Middle School (53 residents). 211 Girdle Road, Elma

Partner organizations:

  • Buffalo Fire Department (supporting with food and 50 cots, blankets and comfort kits)
  • Cheektowaga Senior Center (supporting with blankets). 3349 Broadway, Cheektowaga
  • Cheektowaga Fire Department (supporting with food)
  • Jamison Road, Elma (Supporting with 50 cots and blankets)
  • Townline Fire Department (supporting with 20 cots and blankets). 6507 Broadway, Lancaster

In addition, the Red Cross is supporting relief operations being run by other organizations, including providing food, water, blankets and cots at Erie Community College North Campus to support visiting firefighters. Staff and volunteers remain in contact with emergency officials from across Western New York to respond to this ongoing event.

Despite the break in the weather, the Red Cross urges everyone to continue to heed travel warnings and stay off the roads if possible to allow emergency official to do their jobs. Additional winter storm safety tips are available at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm.

The Red Cross has Disaster Mental Health volunteers staffing each of their shelters to help people deal with the emotional aspect of this disaster.

This is also a stressful time for many who have been forced to shelter in place due to this storm. The national Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 crisis counseling and emotional support for anyone experiencing distress related to natural disasters and emergencies. Calls (1-800-985-5990) and texts (text “TalkWithUs” to 66746; Spanish-speakers can text “Hablanos” to 66746) are answered by trained counselors from a network of centers across the U.S. Residents with concerns regarding medication can call either 211 or 1-888-696-9211. Additional emergency preparedness tips are available at http://www.redcross.org/prepare.