Update from the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Division:
The American Red Cross is preparing to assist up to 100,000 people in North and South Carolina and Virginia as Hurricane Florence nears the east coast.
More than 1,600 people spent the night Tuesday in 36 Red Cross and community shelters in South Carolina and North Carolina.
More than 1,500 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground, including 16 from Northeast Ohio. 14 of the Northeast Ohio workers are volunteers. Most are shelter workers.
Additional Red Cross volunteers from Northeast Ohio are standing by, waiting to be assigned to the disaster relief operation.
Anyone interested in volunteering can visit redcross.org/neo, and click the volunteer tab.
Northeast Ohio American Red Cross volunteers are heading to North Carolina ahead of what could be one of the most devastating storms to ever hit the Carolinas.
As of Tuesday morning, Hurricane Florence was a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour, with gusts registering up to 140 mph.
The National Hurricane Center out of Miami has issued Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches Tuesday for the entire East Coast of the Unitest States, as Florence continues on a crash course with North Carolina. The storm is expected to make landfall, as a Category 4 Hurricane some time Thursday night into Friday morning. More than 1,000,000 residents of the East Coast have been told to evacuate.
Meanwhile, relief efforts are ramping up. Jim McIntyre with the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region, tells our WAKR Newsroom that a group of 9 volunteers are on their way, as of Tuesday afternoon, to North Carolina. "Most volunteers are told to be prepared to be deployed for up to two weeks," McIntyre said, "in order to help provide continuity for the residents who are displaced and may have to hunker down in a shelter."
As with any storm or natural disaster, a lot of uncertainty as to the exact path Florence will take, but McIntyre says that's what the Red Cross prepares for: "What we're trying to is to be prepared for any eventuality; and our volunteers are trained to be flexible, to fulfill the mission they've signed up for, but also to know that they may be called to do something that they didn't sign up to do."
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