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  • 2 Sep 2014

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Red Cross storm relief seeks help

Sixteen Red Cross volunteers from Oregon are on their way to the East Coast to help the victims of “frankenstorm” Sandy.

They are assisting with everything from staffing shelters to distributing food to mental health counseling, says Paula Negele, communication director of the Oregon Trail chapter of the American Red Cross.

“The people displaced by the storm are going to be out of their homes for a long time, as you can tell by just looking at the pictures of the damage,” says Negele.

According to Negele, more than 9,000 people spent Tuesday night in 171 Red Cross shelters in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Indiana and Ohio. The Red Cross has also activated nearly 200 response vehicles that are beginning to circulate through some communities distributing meals, water and snacks.

More than 2,300 disaster workers from across the country have served more than 100,800 meals and snacks so far.

The American Red Cross is seeking donations of both money and blood to help continue these efforts. To donate, people can visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Negele says 91 cents of every donated dollar goes to assisting disaster victims.

Red Cross officials are also warning that the storm has already created a shortfall of more than 10,700 blood and platelet donations in the states affected by the storm. About 300 Red Cross blood drives have already been canceled, and more cancellations are expected before the storm blows itself out.

Local opportunities to contribute blood can also be found at redcross.org or by calling the Oregon Trail chapter, 503-284-1234.

The Red Cross has already moved blood and blood products to those areas most likely to be affected by the storm so that needs in those communities could be met. However, officials say the long-term impact of power outages and blood drive cancellations is expected to be significant.

“Patients will still need blood despite the weather,” said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer of the Red Cross. “To ensure a sufficient national blood supply is available for those in need, both during and after the storm passes, it is critical that those in unaffected areas make an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible.”

And Negele says the storm should serve as a lesson for those who have not yet put together an emergency plan or kit.

“Anything can happen at any time,” warns Negele.