Polk County Red Cross hurricane damage report

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Polk County chapter has sent four volunteers to help out. The six Red Cross Chapters in WNC have deployed more than 60 people to help with feeding, sheltering, client assistance, and supply deliveries.

Two of the Polk County volunteers drove an ERV to Texas. An ERV is a type of mobile feeding unit that goes out to different locations distributing food to the communities. You see these often on the news when the Red Cross is seen helping out. One other volunteer is also helping to feed victims in Texas and another volunteer is helping operate computer systems in Louisiana.

Local Red Cross officials say Polk County has a great team of volunteers who are always willing to help whether it is locally or shipping out to help other areas. During the past storms, including Hanna, Polk County deployed seven volunteers to work in different areas. The chapter also gained some new volunteers to help with local blood drives. The local Red Cross says it is working hard to do what can be done in this community to help the victims who have lost everything.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The severity of the situations in Texas and Louisiana has not been brought to Americans&39; attention the way that Katrina was. The financial news and gas dilemma have taken over our local channels. This is a very severe devastation that is being down played a great deal, Red Cross officials say.

The physical devastation of Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike is matched by another consequence that is more subtle, though no less important ‐ the impact on our nation&squo;s blood supply.

In many communities around the country, with blood supplies already low, the American Red Cross has seen its efforts hindered, halted or re-routed by the recent storms and subsequent flooding and power outages.&bsp; Storm damage, flooding, and power outages have caused the cancellation of blood drives in affected areas, and many blood donors have been unable to keep their donation appointments. Prolonged power issues could mean thousands of units of lifesaving blood might not be collected.&bsp; &bsp;

Meanwhile, the Red Cross has activated its national network to move blood from other communities to assist hospitals in communities affected by the storms and other emergencies. The Red Cross has provided hundreds of blood products to hospitals in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Ike and to trauma hospitals in Los Angeles for the train crash survivors. Many of these blood units were type O, the type most often used in emergencies.

The result is a shortfall between supply and demand that must be made up so patients who need blood will not be placed at risk. To this week&squo;s cancer patients and accident victims, who may require anywhere from one to 40 units of blood, that loss is significant.

A stable blood supply is important throughout the year, but during times like these blood donation is especially important. Type O blood donors are especially needed because type O blood can be given to any patient in an emergency when there may no time to test for and match the patient&squo;s blood type.

For more information on Red Cross efforts or blood drives, contact the Polk Chapter of the American Red Cross at 828-894-2700 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. or anytime at arcpolk@alltel.net.