To the Editor:
The approach of a hurricane is slow and deliberate. We can monitor its threatening path as it swirls ominously toward land, but we are unable to halt its advance. However, this doesn't mean we must remain powerless. With nearly 130 years of experience, the American Red Cross knows that empowerment comes with careful preparation and a practiced response. With the support of our donors nationwide and in the Wabash Valley, the Red Cross has the tools, infrastructure and expertise to provide safety from the storm and a plan for recovery in its wake.
As Hurricane Irene approached, the Red Cross monitored its progress, at first preparing a smaller response to provide assistance in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida. As Irene changed course and gained intensity, it became evident that the response would be much larger. With pre-positioned supplies, staff and shelters standing ready, it was poised to be one of the largest response operations in Red Cross history.
Other disasters occur in the blink of an eye. A flash flood inundates a community; a tornado rips through a home; a fire demolishes an apartment building. In both instances, people turn to the Red Cross for resources to prepare themselves, for shelter from the storm, for supplies for cleanup, information for recovery and a shoulder to lean on.
In the wake of Hurricane Irene, thousands of people have turned to the American Red Cross for help. Many communities from North Carolina to New England are suffering from significant flooding, wind damage and widespread power outages. We are putting the full force of the Red Cross into action to provide relief. Our response to this storm could last for weeks, helping people get back on their feet.
Right now, our main focus is to continue providing people with shelter and food. Last night, the Red Cross operated or supported approximately 340 shelters with more than 8,600 residents from North Carolina to New England. This number will fluctuate as we go through this disaster. Since Friday, we've provided more than 48,000 overnight shelter stays...including 27,000 shelter stays on Friday evening.
We've also made arrangements to have about 1.3 million meals available in North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and New York through our partners. We have approximately 260 feeding vehicles ready to go into neighborhoods. We've engaged every Red Cross feeding truck east of the Rocky Mountains in this relief effort including the Wabash Valley Chapter's Emergency Response Vehicle and local volunteers.
The footprint left behind by Irene is huge, stretching out larger than the size of the European continent. The cost of our response will be millions. People who can help are encouraged to click, text or call to donate to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit www.redcross.org , call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Down the street, across the country and around the world, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year --about 185 disasters each day. Please support American Red Cross Disaster Relief to help ensure that our national network of more than 600 chapters are ready to respond, delivering hope, anywhere, any time, at a moment's notice.
With deep appreciation,
Kathie Skeel and Ginger Scott
Board Members of the American Red Cross Wabash Valley Chapter and Leadership Council Putnam County