Washington, DC - More than two weeks after Hurricane Irma devastated parts of Florida, the American Red Cross and a large team of partners continue to work around the clock to provide shelter, food and comfort to people whose lives have been turned upside down. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the American Red Cross is working around the clock on a multi-island relief effort in coordination with government officials and disaster partners to help the hundreds of thousands of people suffering.
In Florida, officials estimate that more than 195,000 homes were either destroyed or received major damage. Rivers are still overflowing their banks in some parts of the state. In the Florida Keys, officials estimate that 25 percent of the homes were destroyed and 90 percent damaged. Red Cross workers are providing food, shelter, relief supplies, health services and emotional support in the hardest hit areas. Hundreds of people remain in emergency shelters, and the Red Cross is making sure people get the help they need as they plan their next steps.
Red Cross vehicles are delivering meals and relief supplies to people cleaning up their homes.
The Danish Red Cross has erected a base camp in Big Pine Key, Florida to house Red Cross disaster responders with residential areas, a mess hall, office space, storage space, bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities.
In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, hospitals were severely damaged and the U.S. Navy is readying the USS Comfort hospital ship to support Puerto Rico. The storm destroyed homes, bridges and roads on both territories, knocked out power, damaged water infrastructure, destroyed crops, critically cut cell phone service and caused flooding and mudslides. It could be months until power is restored. Fuel is available but conditions make it almost impossible to distribute it. Flooding continues in many areas.
According to officials, preliminary assessments indicate at least 30,000 roofs are damaged across just the eastern and southern portions of Puerto Rico. And an estimated 13,000 roofs are damaged across the U.S. Virgin Islands. Officials estimate that emergency shelters and food support will be needed by a large portion of the population in both territories for weeks. The Red Cross is working with disaster partners to get help to people in need. For example, more than a dozen ham radio operators from the American Radio Relay League are deploying to help with communications. They are joined by Red Cross volunteers from Mexico, Spain, Finland, Costa Rica, Honduras and Colombia who are distributing food and water and helping with damage assessment.
Red Cross Response
The Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers and relief supplies to help those in need. Getting relief materials to the islands is difficult, but the Red Cross is working with federal, corporate and community partners to get supplies to the region by both sea and air. The Red Cross relief effort stretches across multiple states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Hurricanes Irma & Maria
• Overnight, more than 11,680 people were provided refuge in 177 government and Red Cross shelters across Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This includes:
- In Florida, more than 780 people in 8 emergency shelters.
- On the U.S. Virgin Islands, more than 610 people in 7 evacuation shelters.
- In Puerto Rico, 10,280 people in 162 government evacuation shelters.
• To date, evacuation centers have provided more than 642,000 overnight stays to people needing a safe place to go because of Hurricane Irma.
• Along with our partners, we have served more than 1.3 million (1,340,000) meals and snacks across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
• We’ve distributed nearly 600,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
• Red Cross volunteers have provided nearly 37,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected across six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
• More than 2,100 Red Cross workers are responding to Irma and Maria now, with 234 additional volunteers on the way.
• 134 emergency response vehicles are helping to deliver meals and relief supplies across the hardest hit areas in Florida.
Puerto Rico & USVI
- Approximately 500 Red Cross trained disaster workers are supporting relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- On the U.S. Virgin Islands, more than 610 people stayed overnight in 7 evacuation shelters. In Puerto Rico, 10,280 people stayed overnight in 162 government evacuation shelters
- After Irma’s landfall, disaster workers in Puerto Rico assisted hundreds of families with necessities such as clothing, shoes, food and medicine. The Red Cross also distributed more than 14,400 relief supplies and provided health services and emotional support to families and evacuees.
- After Irma’s landfall, on the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Red Cross handed out more than 4,500 relief items and served 9,400 meals and snacks to people in need.
The Red Cross is working very closely with the entire response community – government agencies, other non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others – to coordinate emergency relief efforts and get help to people as quickly as possible. The Red Cross is also working with dozens of disaster partners to support feeding, child care, disaster assessment and other disaster services. Some of the partners we are coordinating with include The Peace Corps, American Radio Relay League, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, All Hands Volunteers, the Salvation Army, Save the Children, Southern Baptists Disaster Relief, Team Rubicon, UNIDOS US and VOAD Puerto Rico.
How to Help
The need for blood is constant. The Red Cross depends on generous volunteer blood donors to provide lifesaving blood for those in need – each and every day – not only during times of disaster. We are grateful to our dedicated donors who roll up a sleeve to help their fellow American citizen.
Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Help people affected by Hurricane Maria by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MARIA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.