The American Red Cross has launched relief responses in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Alaska following massive weekend storms that caused catastrophic flooding, and left the entire island of Puerto Rico without power, forcing the many people left their homes.
Hurricane Fiona lashed Puerto Rico with 85 mph winds and 16 inches of rain, knocking out power across the island. Thousands of miles away, Hurricane Merbok lashed the west coast of Alaska, causing flooding that tore buildings off their foundations and forced people from their homes. The Red Cross is launching aid responses to both storms.
FIONA Red Cross disaster teams are in Puerto Rico and nearby, ready to resume relief services when it is safe to do so. Hurricane Fiona lashed Puerto Rico with 75 mph winds and heavy rain, knocking out power across the island. Some areas could see up to 30 inches of rain before the storm moves away from Puerto Rico, and flooding, mudslides and debris make it difficult to restore power and assess damage. Hundreds have been evacuated and people are being urged to move to higher ground now. Rescuers performed several rapid water rescues. Public transportation has ground to a halt and airports and ports continue to remain closed
In Puerto Rico, the government opens and manages emergency shelters. Reports indicate that more than 120 shelters are open, many in schools powered by solar micro-grid power systems installed with a Red Cross contribution of nearly $1.5 million after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.
Before Hurricane Fiona made landfall, the Red Cross prepositioned blood products to support hospitals in Puerto Rico. On Monday, the Red Cross sent additional units of platelets to support patients there. Platelets have a short shelf life of only 5 days. The Red Cross is urging those in unaffected areas to donate blood and platelets by visiting RedCrossBlood.org.
Fiona also passed over the US Virgin Islands with heavy rain and 45 mph winds. Many are without power and the main hospital and 911 Center are running on generator power. Trained Red Cross disaster workers will help assess the damage when it is safe and work with officials to determine what assistance is needed.
MERBOK The Red Cross is preparing to respond to western Alaska where Hurricane Merbok hit over the weekend, causing severe flooding to uproot buildings and force residents to seek shelter.
With freezing winter temperatures expected in the coming weeks, flooded homes and airport runways are a major concern. Air travel and the delivery of goods and supplies by barge will soon cease due to the approaching cold weather. In some remote areas, these are the main means of obtaining supplies.
The Red Cross has disaster teams in Alaska ready to offer aid and comfort to those affected by this massive storm as soon as it is safe to do so. Disaster workers from out of state arrived in Anchorage last week and more Red Cross teams are on their way to support this operation. Communities in need of assistance have been identified and Red Cross teams are working with community leaders to provide assistance where it is most needed. In Alaska, shelters are run by the government and community groups and the Red Cross prepares to support them if needed.
It’s important to remember that responding to disasters is a team effort and no one organization can do it alone — the Red Cross will coordinate with officials and emergency management to help those affected.
YOU CAN HELP people affected by disasters such as hurricanes and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare, respond and help people recover from disasters, large and small. Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
DURING AND AFTER THE STORM
- If local authorities advise you to evacuate, go immediately.
- Bring your Go Kit.
- Follow the evacuation routes and do not try to take shortcuts as they may be blocked.
- Check with local officials for accommodation locations.
- If you stay at homedetermine your best protection for high winds and flooding.
- Take shelter in a designated storm shelter or an indoor room.
- Stay away from glass windows and doors.
- Move to higher ground before flooding begins.
- After the stormwait for officials to say it’s safe before going home.
- Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles, and snapped wires.
- Do not touch floodwater because it may contain sewage, bacteria and chemicals that can make you sick.
- Do not use propane, natural gas, or coal-burning appliances inside a home, basement, garage, tent, or camper – or even outside near an open window. Carbon monoxide can’t be seen or smelled, but it can kill you quickly. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak, get fresh air immediately – don’t delay.
- Wear appropriate protective equipment including gloves, goggles and boots.
- Clean and disinfect everything that gets wet.
- When cleaning heavy debris, work with a partner. Make sure you have proper training before using tools, such as chainsaws.
- Turn around, don’t drown! Stay off the roads. If you must drive and you encounter a flooded road, turn around and go the other way. If you’re caught on a flooded road and the water is rising around you, get out of the car quickly, move to higher ground and stay there. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Tune in to your local radio, NOAA radio or news channel for the latest updates.
- If your area is prone to flooding, prepare to evacuate quickly if necessary. Follow evacuation orders and do not return until officials say it is safe.
- Stay away from flood water. Be aware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around floodwaters and your home.
SAFETY IN BLESSING POWER
Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
- Do not drive unless necessary. Traffic lights will be out and roads may be congested.
- Turn off and unplug any appliances, equipment and electronics. Coming to power
back, surges or spikes can damage the equipment.
- Leave a light on, so you know when the power is restored.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to have severe weather safety information at your fingertips, including shelter locations. The Emergency app provides real-time weather alerts and tips on how to stay safe during severe weather and countless other emergencies. Search for “American Red Cross” in the app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.
HELP CORPORATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS Generous donations from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and the Disaster Responder Program enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters large and small, respond whenever and wherever even when disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.
ADGP $1M Members:
Amazon; American Airlines; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Bank of America; Best Buy; Caterpillar Foundation; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Costco Wholesale; Delta Air Lines; Elevance Health Foundation; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; FedEx; Lilly Endowment Inc.; Lowe’s Companies, Inc.; McDonald’s Corporation; Microsoft Corp.; Nationwide Foundation; PayPal; PetSmart Charities; The Starbucks Foundation; State Farm; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited; Truist Foundation; VSP Vision; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; and Wells Fargo.
ADGP $500K Members:
Altria Group; American Express; Aon; Financial Bread; Calmoseptine, Inc.; Capital One; CarMax; Citi Foundation; The Clorox Company; Darden Foundation; Delta Dental; Dollar General; Edison International; Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation; Ford Motor Company Fund; Fox Corporation; General Motors; Google.org The Home Depot Foundation; Global Role; The JM Smucker Company; Johnson Controls Foundation; The Kroger Co. foundation; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Lockheed Martin Corporation; MasterCard; Merck; Mondelēz International Foundation; New Balance Foundation; Organon; PepsiCo Foundation; Salesforce; Southeastern Grocers Gives Foundation & Southeastern Grocers, home of Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie; Stanley Black & Decker; target; The TJX Companies, Inc.; Toyota; United Airlines; UPS; USAA; Visa Foundation; The Walt Disney Company; and The Wawa Foundation.
ADGP $250K Members:
7-Eleven Cares Foundation; Adobe; The AES Corporation; Ameriprise Financial; Assurant; AT&T; AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; Avangrid Foundation; Barclays; Big 5 Sporting Goods; CDW; Choice Hotels International; Cisco Foundation; CNA Insurance; The Coca-Cola Company; CSX; The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation; Discover; Duke Energy; Dutch Bros Foundation; Equal; FirstEnergy Corporation; Gopuff; Harbor Freight Tools Foundation, LLC; HCA Health Care; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation; HP Foundation; Kaiser Permanente; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; The Kraft Heinz Company Foundation; The Labcorp Charitable Foundation; Lenovo Foundation; LHC Group; Major League Baseball; Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc.; Martin Marietta; Mattress Firm; McKesson Foundation; MetLife Foundation; Neiman Marcus Group; NextEra Energy, Inc.; Northrop Grumman; Northwestern Mutual; Old Dominion Freight Line; Pacific Life Foundation; Procter & Gamble; Prudential; Raytheon Technologies; Reckitt; Rodan + Fields Prescription for Change Project, a project of the New Venture Fund; Ross Stores Foundation; Ryder Systems, Inc.; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; Lending Hand Foundation of Security Finance; ServiceNow; Southwest Airlines; Tata Consulting Services; U-Haul International; US Bank Foundation; and Zurich.