National and local organizations have mobilized to help people hit by Hurricane Harvey, the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the United States since Charley in 2004 and Category-5 Katrina in 2005.
The American Red Cross is operating 34 shelters in Texas and another in Louisiana, with more than 1,800 people housed as of Sunday. However, the national organization expects the numbers to grow significantly. They currently have enough supplies for 28,000 people and supplies for an additional 22,000 are on the way, with nearly half of the Red Cross’s emergency response fleet mobilized.
Volunteers for the St. Louis chapter of the Red Cross spent Sunday loading up trailers full of supplies and local volunteers hit the road to go south to help, according to the Red Cross Twitter account.
Blood donations are another issue. While the Red Cross stockpiled extra blood in Dallas in anticipation of the storm, other services are stepping up their donations to assist with the nation’s blood supply during the disaster. Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center has been asked to help support blood inventory needs; according to public relations director Kirby Winn, canceled blood drives in Texas means they’re down about 1,000 donations.
“We are shipping blood components to Texas today, and will need to have a strong week in order to continue with that support,” Winn said.
MVRBC will offer free T-shirts for donors during the Labor Day weekend. Donors should register to give at MVRBC blood centers or mobile blood drives through Sept. 10. All blood types are needed, but there is a special need for O-negative and O-positive whole blood, Type AB plasma and platelet donors.
Donor relations director Amanda Hess called the need “urgent.”
“With the holiday weekend, we’ll miss out on a day’s worth of blood collection, but patient need at hospitals remains constant,” Hess said. “Donors are needed to ensure that area hospitals have life-saving blood for patients as we wrap up the busy summer season.”
Mobile blood drives can be searched on the blood center’s website. There are currently 13 drives scheduled in Madison County and two in St. Clair County between now and Sept. 15, including drives at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Alton VFW, The Bank of Edwardsville and Fresh Thyme in Fairview Heights.
Likewise the Red Cross has numerous mobile blood drives planned. You can search for the nearest drives in the coming days on the Red Cross website.
Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofit organizations according to their effectiveness, has compiled a short list of highly-rated organizations who are responding to Harvey. The American Red Cross is one of them, as well as Americares, Convoy of Hope, MAP International and several others. The full list can be found on the Charity Navigator site, and donors are always encourage to look into the background of any nonprofit soliciting donations.
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