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Local Red Cross assists in Hurricane Matthew relief effort

WBFO file photo

As Hurricane Matthew sweeps through Haiti, the regional branch of the American Red Cross is playing a role in relief efforts.

A few people associated with the organization’s upstate operations have already been deployed.

The storm struck Haiti Tuesday morning with a trajectory toward Florida and other parts of the southeastern U.S. coast. About 3,000 volunteers and staff have been working to provide aid in the area.

Jay Bonafede , the regional chief communications officer for the Red Cross, told WBFO the office has been in contact with other branches from Haiti, Florida and both Carolinas.

“We’ve actually just deployed a third volunteer from the Western and Central New York region in kind of a leadership, pre-deployment role,” he said. “Obviously we’ll be in contact and as we know what the needs are, I’m sure several other volunteers from the Western and Central New York region will be deployed, if necessary.”

The storm has been classified as the strongest in the Atlantic Ocean since Hurricane Felix in 2007. The Red Cross will continue to closely monitor the situation.

Credit NOAA /NWS
The expected path of Hurricane Matthew as of Thursday morning.

“This is kind of what the Red Cross does, what our volunteers train for. We’re ready to provide for those immediate emergency needs: a warm, safe place to stay, food, water, support that people are going to need if this storm does happen to hit,” Bonafede said.

The storm might also affect blood donations in the affected areas. Bonafede said people can make donations now while weather won’t be a factor.

“Right now, we do have enough blood on the shelves to meet the need, but there’s a constant need for blood,” he said. “If you think about it, it is a time sensitive product so we’re in a constant need for blood even without the storm. Now, this storm and its impact may cause the cancellation of some Red Cross blood drives, fewer donors may be able to make it to those drives because of the weather conditions. So that will cause a shortfall.”

Those looking to help can do so by making a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief or by scheduling an appointment to donate blood. The organization can be reached  at redcross.org or by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS.

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