It’s Not Over – Florence Flooding Continues in the Carolinas

The threat from Hurricane Florence is far from over as rivers continue to rise in the Carolinas and extremely dangerous flooding is still occurring. Getting help into affected areas is challenging, and will be for some time.  One of the four crews deployed in an Emergency Response Vehicle from Northeast Ohio had to spend the night in a fire house in Marion, South Carolina on Monday, after rising waters cut off their return route.

Some Red Cross workers are finding creative ways to deliver relief to residents stranded by floodwaters, as you can see in this video.

  • Some 18 counties in North Carolina are still under evacuation orders and water rescues are continuing.
  • Nearly 1,000 roads are closed and as many as 220,000 people are without power. Many gas stations are still closed due to power outages and a lack of fuel.

This is a heartbreaking and dangerous situation, and the American Red Cross is working around the clock to provide safe shelter and comfort for the hundreds of thousands of people impacted.

  • The Red Cross is mobilizing more than 140 emergency response vehicles, including 4 from Northeast Ohio, and more than 110 trailers of equipment and supplies, including meals and enough cots and blankets for more than 100,000 people.
  • The Red Cross is working with the National Guard, U.S. Army and other partners to transport disaster workers and supplies to areas in need. On Tuesday, about 40 Red Cross volunteers were flown on military helicopters into areas cut off by flood waters.
  • The Red Cross is working with dozens of partners to support feeding, sheltering, transportation and other disaster services.

Due to Hurricane Florence, nearly 200 blood drives have been forced to cancel, resulting in over 5,200 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

  • We expect additional blood drive cancellations over the coming days, with fewer blood and platelet donors available to give at drives in and around affected areas due to flooding and poor weather conditions.

About 2,800 Red Cross disaster workers, including about four dozen from Northeast Ohio, have been mobilized to help feed, shelter, and support people affected by Florence and the subsequent flooding.

To help support the disaster relief operation, Fox 8 in Cleveland will be broadcasting live reports on Thursday, September 20, from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm.  The station will be promoting a Hurricane Florence disaster relief hotline number, giving viewers the chance to make a donation over the phone.  Donations can also be made online at 1-800 RED CROSS, or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.

Homes Remain Under Water Weeks After Hurricane Matthew Hits Land

Thousands of people in the southeast continue to deal with the effects of Hurricane Matthew more than two weeks after the storm made landfall. We are with them, providing food, shelter and help with recovery. The Red Cross and partners have already served more than 1.3 million meals and snacks and provided more overnight shelter stays than after Superstorm Sandy. The massive response is far from over, and Red Cross workers will support those affected for as long as help is needed.


As we continue to provide critical relief to those affected by Hurricane Matthew, the Red Cross will begin helping residents start the recovery process by connecting them to services and resources they need. A good first step is to register with FEMA, as there is federal assistance available to help people recover. For those who do not qualify for federal disaster assistance, the Red Cross is able to provide limited financial assistance to ensure that they have access to additional support.


Teresa Bellamy of Fair Bluff, N.C.

In the U.S. alone, the response to Hurricane Matthew is anticipated to cost between approximately $24 – $28 million. At present, we have raised only $8.1 million in designated donations and pledges for Hurricane Matthew—so we need the public’s support to help the thousands of people still suffering.

The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting, 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.

Recovery Continues on East Coast

Twelve days have passed since Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the United States.  Many areas remain flooded. 26 Red Cross shelters remain open, with over 1,400 individuals seeking lodging there on Monday night.


As waters begin to recede, the second stage of the Red Cross recovery efforts will begin. We will start to work with those affected to provide navigation through the web of assistance available to them, not just through the Red Cross, but through other organizations such as FEMA.


Some of our img_2537volunteers are out in communities – as conditions permit – across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida to provide warm meals and relief supplies. Some are on the ground accessing the damages to homes (a step necessary for a family to obtain financial assistance), while others begin to meet with families and individuals to help them map out their own recovery process.

img_2526All told, the Red Cross has mobilized almost 5,000 disaster workers, 235 response vehicles, 19 partner-supported kitchens as well as truckloads of water, ready-to-eat meals, cots, blankets, kitchen items, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more.

Overall, Red Cross and community partners have served more than 931,000 meals and snacks, distributed more than 187,000 relief items, supported more than 19,000 health and mental health services, and provided 93,000 overnight stays in shelters.

How can you help?

MAKE A DONATION – The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting, 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.

GIVE BLOOD – We’d also like to ask public to remember the blood needs of the Red Cross. Hurricane Matthew has already forced the cancellation of many blood drives along the East Coast, and more could be cancelled. If you’re in an unaffected area, please give blood or platelets now, so we can continue to help patients in need. Go to or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

BECOME A VOLUNTEER – People can make a difference in someone’s life by becoming a Red Cross volunteer. To join us, visit and click on VOLUNTEER today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application. To learn more about national deployment, read this story.


From the Titanic to Service: Dispatches from the East Coast

img_2098-2Dori Baumwart is passionate about service to others.

She is a Red Cross volunteer from Greenville, SC, assisting with sheltering in the southern part of the state during the Hurricane Matthew disaster relief operation.  Dori has a smile that is contagious, and even while waiting for her shelter assignment, she constantly asks, “What else can I do for you?”

Dori traces her love of helping strangers cope with disaster to her paternal grandmother, Amy.  When Amy was in her early twenties in 1912, her doctor told her she needed to leave her home in Great Britain to a warmer climate, so she booked a second-class passage on a ship headed for America.  As an unmarried woman traveling alone, Amy was an oddity on the Titanic but she was excited about starting her new life.

amy-stanleyAs the Titanic sank into the cold, Atlantic waters, Amy found herself standing on the deck as the lifeboat in front of her was filled to capacity. However, a young man who had a seat saw her there, and without any pressure from other passengers, he leaped out and offered his spot to her.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the sacrifice of this unknown gentleman,” says Dori.  “My grandmother eventually met and married my grandfather in the United States.  What’s really neat is that the survivors from the Titanic were housed at the Met Life building in New York City after the Carpathian rescued them.  I worked for Met Life, so I always felt like everything came full circle.”

Today, as Dori prepares to head to the shelter to care for evacuees, she proudly shares the story of how her grandmother survived so that she could pay it forward.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, get started on your application today at and click on Volunteer!

Story and Photos by Michelle Hankes/American Red Cross from

NEO Volunteers and Staff Head to the East Coast for Hurricane Matthew Response

emily-probst“My name is Emily and I am the Disaster Program Specialist for the Greater Cleveland Chapter. I am heading out on my first deployment to assist with disaster relief for Hurricane Matthew. I am very excited to get down to Florida and make a direct impact to the community. I started working for the Red Cross because I wanted a job where I was making a positive impact everyday! I am more then ready to take this next step in my work and hit the ground running upon my arrival. “

Including Emily, nineteen NEO Red Cross workers have deployed to the East Coast, and many more are expected to leave in the coming days.

The 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.

More than 1,800 Red Cross disaster workers from across the country are on the ground or traveling to the southeast to support evacuation shelters and response efforts. 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.

If someone you know needs to find a shelter, they can visit, 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.

Donations help those affected by disasters, big and small. To donate today, visit

Red Cross Responds to Several Weekend Disasters

Assists Searchers Looking for Missing Child; Helps Victims of Epic Flooding

A major, historic flood event is ongoing in South Carolina and parts of North Carolina. And the search for a missing child ended successfully in Trumbull County. Volunteers from the American Red Cross assisted there, and with several other disasters over the weekend.

The child, two-year old Rainn Peterson was reported missing Friday night from the family home in North Bloomfield.  Some 60 searchers spent almost 48 hours looking for the little girl, and the Red Cross provided canteen services, including food, water and warmth inside an emergency response vehicle.

In addition, cots were provided to police and FBI agents who stayed at the Emergency Operations Center Saturday night.

On Sunday, just as the sun was setting, a volunteer found the the little girl about a quarter mile from the home. The Trumbull County sheriff said she was doing “as fine as can be expected” after spending nearly two days outdoors, with temperatures that dipped into the lower 40’s and a steady rain on Saturday.

“We all wanted to see heartbreak turn into hope, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Lake to River Chapter of the Red Cross. “That little girl was in our hearts the whole time.  It could have happened to any of us.”

While THAT story ended happily, the flooding on the East Coast is far from over.

This is now the wettest October on record in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, surpassing the previous record of 11.59 inches in 1959 – and it’s only the beginning of the month.

Flash flooding is ongoing and has become serious in many locations, including in Charleston, where numerous swift-water rescues were reported. Roads were closed all over the state, including portions of Interstates 77 and 20. A 75-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between Interstates 20 and 26 was closed. The heavily traveled highway through the eastern portion of the state was not closed during 1989’s Hurricane Hugo.

Widespread rainfall totals since Thursday are between 5 to 10 inches, with locally heavier amounts reported. Some coastal areas from Charleston to Myrtle Beach have recorded 10 to 16 inches. Additional heavy rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches is possible. These extreme rainfall amounts will continue to lead to widespread and catastrophic flooding and flash flooding.  It will take several days for water to recede in the region once the rain ends. A Federal Emergency Declaration has been declared for South Carolina.

“We are helping families across South Carolina that are in need of shelter, disaster relief and comfort,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer of the American Red Cross in South Carolina. “We are also welcoming members of the community who want to help to join us as Red Cross disaster volunteers.”

The American Red Cross has opened 35 emergency shelters, helping people stay safe and dry and providing meals and emotional support. More than 200 people spent the night Sunday in a Red Cross shelter. Nearly 400 Red Cross workers, 22 emergency response vehicles and supplies for 5,000 people have been mobilized.

Additional shelters are on standby and the Red Cross is working closely with government partners to ensure immediate needs of residents are being met.

Volunteers from every Red Cross region in the Midwest, including Northeast Ohio, responded to a variety of disasters over the weekend. We respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year, from home fires to wildfires, flooding and more.

In addition to flooding, we are still helping people impacted by the wildfires in California, a blizzard in Alaska, and the school shooting in Oregon, where volunteers are providing mental health support and assistance at community events.  And in Florida, more than a dozen Red Cross volunteers are providing emotional support and other assistance for the families of the seamen aboard the cargo ship El Faro, which sank during Hurricane Joaquin last week.

You can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.