American Red Cross preparing to respond as Hurricane Matthew moves through Caribbean toward US

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - As Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Haiti, the American Red Cross is preparing for it to reach the United States later this week. The American Red Cross is warning the storm has the potential to impact multiple states, threaten millions and potentially force thousands to seek emergency shelter.

In Haiti, high winds, heavy rains and a strong storm surge blasted the southern coast early Tuesday morning. After the storm passes, the American Red Cross team in Haiti will begin conducting needs and damage assessments in preparation for delivering prepositioned response stocks in partnership with the Haitian Red Cross.

In addition, the Haitian the Red Cross has more than 3,000 volunteers and staff working to help impacted communities with health, sanitation and emergency response. Emergency supply kits have been prepared and shipped out to warehouses in affected areas, including cholera prevention kits, hygiene kits, and kitchen sets. Community Intervention Teams (CITs) made up of volunteers trained in search and rescue and first-aid have been mobilized and equipped.

More than 700 U.S. Military personnel, spouses and children from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay are seeking shelter at Naval Air Station Pensacola after being evacuated on Sunday. As of Tuesday morning, the Red Cross has distributed 1,000 meals and snacks, as well as comfort kits and diapers, and provided nearly 50 cots. Remaining military personnel in Cuba are being provided disaster preparedness support by the Red Cross in conjunction with the U.S. Military.

Hurricane Matthew could affect the United States later this week, and the American Red Cross is getting ready now for a potential multi-state response. From Florida to New England, the Red Cross is finalizing shelter plans and preparing vehicles and supplies. Trained Red Cross disaster relief workers are being mobilized across multiple states.

The Red Cross is urging people in the potential path of Hurricane Matthew to stay informed about the storm and take steps to get prepared now.

The Red Cross recommends taking these three steps:

1) Build a disaster kit

2) Come up with an emergency plan

3) Be informed about how local authorities will notify you during a disaster, whether through local media or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels. Stay informed by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App which puts real time information and hurricane safety tips as your fingertips. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or going to redcross.org/apps.

Blood Donations Needed

Depending on the path and impact of the storm, Hurricane Matthew may force the cancellation of some Red Cross blood drives along the East Coast. Additionally, fewer donors will likely come out to donate at drives in affected areas due to poor weather conditions. The Red Cross is closely monitoring the potential hurricane path of Hurricane Matthew and plans to send additional blood products to areas likely to be impacted by the storm to ensure patient needs continue to be met.

It's important to remember that it's the blood already on the shelves that helps during a disaster. We encourage eligible donors to please give blood or platelets before the storm arrives to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. All eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by Hurricane Matthew are also urged to schedule an appointment.

HOW TO HELP The work of the American Red Cross starts long before a hurricane makes landfall in the United States. For example, we have warehouses stocked with disaster relief supplies, thousands of trained workers, and more than 320 mobile response vehicles on standby year-round to be ready to help people in need. If we didn't maintain these resources 24/7, we couldn't get help to people in a timely fashion—but we depend on donations from the American public to be ready.

Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods and countless other crises by making a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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 to donate blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).