Health & Wellness

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Red Cross Eases Communications to Puerto Rico for Families and Friends

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PRINCETON, NJ  – In the last month, the American Red Cross has launched a wide-ranging relief effort to help people devastated by three historic, back-to-back hurricanes - Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The Red Cross is part of a large team of agencies and organizations responding to provide help to communities turned upside down by these three category 4 storms.

 

During the last four weeks, the American Red Cross New Jersey Region has deployed 128 disaster workers and four emergency response vehicles to help with hurricane relief efforts.

 

The most recent, Hurricane Maria, was the most intense hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years. The American Red Cross is working with government officials and disaster partners to help the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by this storm’s devastation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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“The American Red Cross had employees and volunteers, including some of us from New Jersey, on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since before Hurricane Irma made landfall,” said Ana Montero, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Now that Hurricane Maria has impacted the same area, we are continuing our efforts to bring relief to people on the islands working alongside Red Cross Societies from around the world.”

 

In Puerto Rico, the storm destroyed homes, bridges and roads, knocked out power for the entire island, damaged water infrastructure, critically cut cell phone service, and caused flooding and mudslides. It could be months until power is restored.

 

Getting relief supplies to the islands remains difficult, but the Red Cross is working with federal, corporate and community partners to get materials to the region by both sea and air. Nearly 400 Red Cross disaster workers are supporting relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 13 from the New Jersey Region. The Red Cross has already sent 5,000 comfort kits, 5,000 blankets and 5,000 cleanup kits to support response efforts on the islands. In Puerto Rico, the Red Cross is mobilizing an additional 19,000 comfort kits, as well as several thousand tarps, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and hand sanitizers. The Red Cross is preparing to send similar relief supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Red Cross is also shipping additional generators, laptops, satellite phones and radios to help coordinate response efforts.

 

In Puerto Rico, Red Cross teams are looking to assess what communities need. Water was delivered to assisted living facilities in the San Juan area and relief supplies were distributed to Pueblo, Bo. Cañaboncito in Tao Baja and Jayuya. Health services were provided in Utuado and Juana Matos, along with home visits for several at-risk households. Mental health contacts were made in Yabucoa (Southeast Puerto Rico), Fajardo (Northeast Puerto Rico) and Cayey. Relief efforts will continue throughout Puerto Rico as additional areas become safe to access.

 

On the Virgin Islands, Red Cross workers will continue to operate and support emergency shelters. In Puerto Rico, shelters are managed by the government, and the Red Cross is preparing to support sheltering efforts if needed.

 

Recent disasters like Hurricane Maria have left many looking for their loved ones. The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is open to the public and it is available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website:

 

During and after large, devastating disasters such as Hurricane Maria, connectivity can be a challenge. Keep trying to make contact by calling during off-peak hours, and continue to send text messages and emails.

 

The Red Cross is mobilizing a multi-island response to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief for those affected. Help people affected by Hurricane Maria by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting the word MARIA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

HURRICANE IRMA

Two weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall as a devastating Category 4 storm, the American Red Cross and a large team of partners are working together to continue the massive relief response to provide safe shelter, food and comfort to people in need. In Florida, more than 800 people remain in emergency shelters, where Red Cross workers are making sure that people get the help they need as they plan their next steps. Red Cross vehicles are also fanning out in affected neighborhoods to deliver meals and relief supplies as people work to clean up their homes.

 

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are facing widespread devastation after being impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria just days apart. After Irma’s landfall, disaster workers on the islands assisted hundreds of families with necessities such as clothing, food and medicine, and the Red Cross is continuing to mobilize volunteers and relief supplies to help those in need.

 

People are depending on the Red Cross now. Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED-CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

HURRICANE HARVEY

One month after Hurricane Harvey caused the largest flooding event in U.S. history, the Red Cross continues to provide shelter, food, relief supplies and other support to help people whose lives were turned upside down by this catastrophic storm. The Red Cross and its partners have provided more than 400,000 overnight shelter stays and served more than 3.1 million meals and snacks to date in Texas and Louisiana. As of September 25, the Red Cross has also authorized more than $109 million in direct financial assistance for more than 274,000 Texas households.

 

The Red Cross remains on the ground helping people impacted by Hurricane Harvey and will be there in the challenging weeks and months to come as people get back on their feet. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

For more information about Red Cross disaster relief efforts or to learn how you can help, visit redcross.org.

 

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 5,300 volunteers who support the delivery of services throughout the state. In New Jersey, last year, the Red Cross responded to more than 760 local disasters, mostly home fires, helping more than 1,800 displaced families; collected more than 89,100 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided more than 3,500 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained more than 116,100 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. For more information, please visit redcross.org/NJ and follow us on Twitter @NJRedCross.

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