American Red Cross Tennessee Region Responds to Disasters in Puerto Rico

Cookeville – The Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross has stepped up to the challenge and is responding to the relief and recovery efforts following Hurricane Fiona and Typhoon Merbok. There are currently, five staff members or volunteers engaged in helping communities in Puerto Rico and Alaska following the natural disasters. More volunteers could be deployed to the areas in the coming days.

Hurricane Fiona Response

Red Crossers are in Puerto Rico and nearby to provide relief services. Heavy winds and rain resulted in the loss of power to the island. Flooding, mudslides and debris are making it difficult to restore power and assess the damage and hundreds have been evacuated and have been taken to shelters.

In Puerto Rico, the government opens and manages emergency shelters. Reports indicate more than 90 shelters are open today, many in schools powered by solar micro-grid power systems installed with a Red Cross contribution of $1.5 million after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

Prior to Hurricane Fiona making landfall, the Red Cross prepositioned blood products to support hospitals in Puerto Rico. Earlier this week, the Red Cross sent additional units of platelets to support patients there.

Hurricane Fiona also passed over the U.S. Virgin Islands with heavy rain and 45 mph winds. Many are without power and the main hospital and 911 Center are operating with generator power. Trained Red Cross disaster workers will help with damage assessment when it is safe and are working with officials to determine what help is needed.

Typhoon Merbok Response

The Red Cross is also responding to western Alaska where Typhoon Merbok struck.

With winter’s freezing temperatures expected in the coming weeks, flooded homes and airport runways are a major concern. Air travel and delivery of goods and supplies by barge will halt soon because of the oncoming cold weather. In some remote areas, these are the main methods of getting supplies.

Red Crossers in Alaska are ready to offer help and comfort to those affected by this massive storm as soon as it is safe to do so. Disaster workers from out of state arrived in Anchorage last week and more Red Crossers are on their way to support this operation. Communities have been identified that need assistance and Red Crossers are working with community leaders to provide help where it is needed most. In Alaska, the government and community groups are running 15 shelters. The American Red Cross is supporting them as partners.

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