The American Red Cross is providing comfort and safety to hundreds of people affected by the blizzards in the Northeast and Central U.S., as well as the severe weather and tornadoes that tore through Mississippi.
Severe weather affected the South on Sunday, with Mississippi hardest hit. Tornadoes damaged homes, businesses as well as the Red Cross chapter in Hattiesburg and one of its emergency vehicles. In response, the South Mississippi Chapter of the Red Cross mobilized volunteers, dispatched relief supplies and response vehicles, and provided shelter for nearly 40 people who needed a safe place to stay Sunday night. Red Cross disaster workers are expected to begin assessing damages and providing mobile feeding later today in the Hattiesburg area.
Meanwhile in the Northeast, the Red Cross continued to support people affected by the blizzard. On Sunday night, more than 1,500 people found comfort and warmth in 32 shelters in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York. The Red Cross opened or supported 16 of those shelters, with more than 850 people seeking refuge from the storm and freezing temperatures last night. So far the Red Cross has served nearly 13,000 meals and snacks, handed out hundreds of relief items and provided more than 250 health and mental health contacts to people affected by the storm. According to reports, more than 100,000 people were still without power in the Northeast as of early Monday morning.
The Northeast blizzard has also affected Red Cross blood collections. As of Monday morning, the storm had forced the cancellation of 160 Red Cross blood drives, mostly in the Northeast, resulting in a shortfall of more than 6,600 units of blood and platelets. The Red Cross is encouraging blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by this storm. While all types are needed, the Red Cross urges those with blood types O positive, O negative and B negative to make a lifesaving appointment. To schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
A separate blizzard affected the Central U.S. over the weekend, producing whiteout conditions that prompted road closures and stranded travelers in Richland County, N.D., on Sunday. The Minn-Kota Region Chapter of the Red Cross supported a shelter for dozens of travelers that were stranded by this storm.
People affected by these disasters can find open Red Cross shelters at www.redcross.org or by contacting their local Red Cross chapter.