Also committing an initial $2M to help Bahamas
Bahamas Situation Dire, Damage Hampering Relief Efforts;
Blood Donors Outside Storm Area Asked to Give
September 6, 2019- The American Red Cross has mounted a major response to help people in Hurricane Dorian’s destructive path.
An initial $2 million has been committed to assist in meeting the immediate needs of those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, while continuing to provide shelter and food to thousands of people in the United States.
The storm left unbelievable devastation behind in the Bahamas. Abaco and Grand Bahama were particularly hard hit. Initial aerial assessments show widespread devastation to the islands, from destroyed homes to contaminated water sources.
Jenelle Eli, director, International Communications for the American Red Cross, has deployed to the area and reports the situation is dire, especially on Abaco. Video footage of Abaco shows total obliteration of portions of the island and large areas completely covered by water. Thousands are in need of food and water.
“Our relief operation is growing, but we are also facing serious challenges in terms of delivering aid,” Eli reports. “These challenges include damaged airports and destroyed telecommunications networks. Even search-and-rescue choppers haven’t been able to reach some people because there’s no place to land. These challenges are affecting everyone.”
A rapid assessment and response team is currently focusing on emergency shelter and urgent needs. Relief supplies to support temporary shelter needs of 1,500 families are in country. Red Cross shelter and other sector specialists are on the ground to provide immediate relief while conducting assessments, and search and rescues is a current priority while the full scope and scale of needs is still being determined. Red Cross volunteers and staff will also distribute meals and food rations to people who may have gone without food in days.
Eli, a native of Northeast Ohio, continued, “People I spoke to on Abaco today told some pretty horrific stories. Every person I spoke to lost their home. They each had a story about trying to hold their roofs down in the high winds and then running from neighbor’s home to neighbor’s home seeking safety. But each home they sought shelter in got destroyed too. They said that the most damaged areas are decimated.”
Eli reported those she spoke with all echoed this sentiment: “How am I going to start over? This is going to be so hard.” Many of them didn’t know the fate of their loved ones. And they worry that their family members fear them dead since they haven’t been in touch. See more in this video.
The International Federation of the Red Cross has announced an emergency appeal for $3.2 million to support the Bahamas Red Cross as it responds to the storm.
On Thursday night, more than 5,600 people stayed in 112 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. To date, the Red Cross and community organizations have provided nearly 37,000 cumulative overnight stays for Hurricane Dorian.
The Red Cross has mobilized more than 2,700 trained responders from all over the country, including 19 volunteers from Northeast Ohio, to assist in hurricane affected areas.
One of the Northeast Ohio disaster volunteers deployed to assist with Hurricane Dorian is Tom Quinn of Wadsworth.
Volunteers constitute 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce. Volunteers make it possible to respond to an average of more than 62,000 disasters every year, most of them home fires. Disaster services volunteers provide food, shelter, comfort and care for families affected by major disasters such as fire, hurricanes and tornadoes.
While deployed to Florida, Tom assisted at an emergency evacuation shelter at Evans High School in Orlando, FL. One day, Tom selflessly took it upon himself to play with and entertain children living in the shelter to help give them a sense of normalcy during the difficult moment.
Volunteer mental health and health services professionals have also provided more than 10,000 contacts to provide support and care to people affected by Hurricane Dorian.
Along with partners and community organizations, the Red Cross has served more than 85,000 meals and snacks.
In advance of Dorian, the Red Cross has also deployed 110 emergency response vehicles (ERVs), including two ERVs from Northeast Ohio, and 104 tractor trailers loaded full of relief supplies, including cots, blankets and 63,000 ready-to-eat meals to help people in the path of Hurricane Dorian.
LOOKING FOR A LOVED ONE?
People concerned about US Citizens traveling in Bahamas should contact the US State Department Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can make a difference in the lives of people impacted by Hurricane Dorian in both the U.S. and the Bahamas. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. In the U.S., this includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD
Hurricane Dorian has forced the cancellation of approximately 70 Red Cross blood drives and donation centers in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia resulting in more than 1,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations. We urge eligible individuals in unaffected areas to give blood or platelets to ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients. The Red Cross currently has an urgent need for blood donations following a summer shortage. In addition to cancelled blood drives, we anticipate low blood donor turnout in and around affected areas due to poor weather conditions this week. Schedule an appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).