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Red Cross: 27,000+ in Evacuation Shelters as Hurricane Matthew Hits Florida; Storm Cancels Blood Drives

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New Jersey Red Crossers helping with relief efforts in the Southeast

PRINCETON, NJ — The American 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.

“We’ve prepositioned trained volunteers, response vehicles and trailer loads of supplies in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, but now is the time for folks to stay safe and listen to emergency officials,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “The life-threatening storm surge, intense winds and heavy rain could cause widespread devastation and recovery challenges that can’t be handled by just one organization. This is a time for neighbors and communities to come together and support one another—and the Red Cross is proud to be one of many organizations providing help.”

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RED CROSS RESPONSE More than 1,800 Red Cross disaster workers 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.

Four New Jersey Red Cross disaster workers are currently in Florida and Georgia helping with the operation. Mary Sterling of Freehold, Joan Klimpl of Somerset and Jim Eden of Margate City are working at shelters in Florida and Georgia; Avinash Kachhy of Edison is helping with Disaster Services technology in Florida. Additional Red Cross workers from New Jersey are expected to travel to the affected region in the coming days.

“The situation along the Southeast coast remains serious,” said Ana Montero, regional CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Red Cross workers from New Jersey and across the country are helping provide a safe haven for those who have been evacuated by Hurricane Matthew. We ask our caring community to please consider making a financial donation to the Red Cross today to support the people affected by this disaster.”

If people have friends or family in the path of the storm who need to find a shelter, they can visit redcross.org, check the Red Cross Emergency App or call 1-800-768-8048.

URGENT NEED FOR BLOOD, PLATELET DONATIONS As the storm barrels into the United States, the Red Cross is unable to collect blood and platelets in many areas along the Southeast coast. So far, Hurricane Matthew has forced the cancellation of approximately 30 Red Cross blood drives in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina resulting in nearly 1,300 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. The Red Cross is likely to experience additional cancellations in the days ahead as the storm moves north.

The Red Cross is particularly concerned about the loss of platelet donations in affected areas. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in demand.

In parts of the country unaffected by the storm such as New Jersey, the Red Cross strongly urges eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visitingredcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP Everyone should download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on their mobile device, including emergency weather alerts, preparedness information and shelter locations. The free Red Cross Emergency App has a Spanish language toggle switch and is available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

MAKE A DONATION The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew in the U.S. by visiting redcross.org, 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.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visitredcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

About the American Red Cross in New Jersey 
The American Red Cross provides programs and services to a population of 8.8 million in New Jersey. The Red Cross trains and mobilizes more than 5,800 volunteers who support the delivery of services throughout the state. In New Jersey last year, the Red Cross responded to 889 local disasters, mostly home fires, helping 1,820 displaced families; collected 88,439 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided 3,920 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained 117,088 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. For more information, please visit redcross.org/NJ or visit us on Twitter @NJRedCross.

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