CHARLOTTE, NC - North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley declared a state of emergency as Hurricane Hanna makes her way toward the coast. Across the region, local chapters of the American Red Cross are making preparations for the arrival of Hurricanes Hanna and Ike. The Red Cross begins to prepare long before the storms make landfall. If and when evacuation orders are given, the Red Cross is ready with shelters, food and emotional support.
On a national level, thousands of volunteers who have been trained in the Red Cross system are being asked to help as units mobilize toward affected areas.
"Volunteers are vital to the operations of the American Red Cross," said Greater Carolinas Chapter CEO Pamela Jefsen. "In a situation such as this past week when we're dealing with Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and now Ike, volunteers are a huge part of the reason we are able to provide help to our clients."
If you or your loved ones are in the potentially affected areas, register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site at www.redcross.org, or call a loved one and ask them to register you. The Red Cross provides this online tool to help families and individuals notify loved ones that they are safe during an emergency, which can help bring peace of mind in challenging times. If you don't have Internet access, you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register yourself and your family.
As of Friday afternoon, five evacuee shelters across the state of North Carolina have been opened. Chapters in the Carolina Piedmont Region have made efforts to ensure residents are prepared for the upcoming hurricanes while still assisting with clients needing help after Tropical Storm Faye. These chapters have been in contact with their respective county emergency managements teams in order to coordinate response efforts.
Greater Carolinas Chapter
The Greater Carolinas Chapter has placed a shelter at the Victory Christian Center in Charlotte on standby if needed for Hanna evacuees. Several Charlotte-area arenas have also been placed on standby in case our region experiences an influx of evacuees.
The chapter has already deployed an emergency communications response vehicle to Columbia, S.C., along with two volunteers. The vehicle can act as a hub for Red Cross relief operations communication. In addition, a feeding support trailer, which serves as a mobile kitchen, and an emergency response vehicle have been placed on alert for disaster response.
The chapter is in the process of mobilizing volunteers to help with Hurricane Hanna relief efforts.
As the state disaster coordinating chapter, several Greater Carolinas members have played a significant role in the statewide relief operation.
Union County Chapter
The Union County Chapter has been making preparations for a potential Hanna evacuee shelter should one be needed. Chapter staff and volunteers have been assisting the Cabarrus County Chapter with the flooding after Tropical Storm Faye and are ready to provide help for Hanna and Ike.
"Working on a disaster relief operation is one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences you can imagine," reports Community Executive Kathy Bragg. "We are fortunate to have committed volunteers ready to answer the call for people who need help."
Gaston County Chapter
The Gaston County Chapter deployed four volunteers to the Hurricane Gustav relief effort and also sent an employee to Greensboro to be a member of the State Alert Team, which is helping North Carolina prepare for Hanna.
The chapter completed a call down of all disaster volunteers to determine their availability, and checked equipment such as generators to ensure readiness. In addition, Gaston County Chapter provided disaster training this morning for a local mental health partner and will provide additional training on Friday.
The chapter planned a meeting of the Gaston County Disaster Leadership Team in order for activity leads to discuss the plan and answer any follow-up questions.
Catwaba Valley Chapter
The Catawba Valley Chapter has deployed a staff member to Greensboro in preparation for Hanna as well as three volunteers to the Gulf Coast area to provide mass care and bulk distribution. Two volunteers have been sent to the Florida area to provide communications assistance.
Two volunteers from the Catawba Valley Chapter also assisted in the regional shelter in Charlotte for Tropical Storm Faye, and the chapter assisted six evacuees from Hurricane Gustav.
Cabarrus County Chapter
The Cabarrus County Chapter has deployed two volunteers to assist with Hurricane Hanna as other chapter staff and volunteers work to assist the clients affected by Tropical Storm Faye. The chapter has worked to ready its volunteers and shelter partners in case an evacuee shelter or other form of assistance is necessary.