Red Cross begins large relief operation as Hurricane Irene hits the East Coast

Published: 28 August 2011

28 August, 2011, Americas Zone Office— The American Red Cross launched a major relief operation all along the eastern seaboard to help people in the path of Hurricane Irene. More than 13,000 people spent Friday night in hundreds of shelters opened across several states. Many more shelters are set to open throughout the weekend as the storm moves to the north.

“We are putting the full force of the Red Cross behind our response,” said Gail McGovern, Red Cross President and CEO. “People need to listen to local authorities and evacuate if told to do so. Many areas could be inaccessible after the storm and first responders won’t be able to get in right away or offer services. People need to leave when told and plan on caring for their loved ones for at least 72 hours.”

Thousands of Red Cross disaster workers are helping people from North Carolina to New England. More than 200 emergency response vehicles have been mobilized, and tens of thousands of prepackaged meals moved into the area. Volunteers from partner organizations like AmeriCorps NCCC and the Southern Baptist Convention are working alongside Red Cross volunteers in some areas.

Irene forced the cancellation of dozens of blood collections along the East Coast. The Red Cross urged immediate blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by the storm and asked that people in the affected areas consider donating blood once the storm passes through and it’s safe to do so.

The Pan-American Disaster Response Unit remains on orange alert and is currently monitoring the situation as it develops. “We are in direct contact with the Bahamas and American Red Cross National Societies and we are ready to offer our support” said Jorge Zequeira PADRU coordinator.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil¬lion people each year through its 186 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Americas  (Interviews)
• Jorge Zequeira, padru coordinator, Americas Zone Office, IFRC
Mobile : +507 6675 02 90—E-mail
• Enrique Jair Guevara, communications officer , Americas Zone Office, IFRC
Mobile : +507 66707365 – E-mail
In Geneva:
• Paul Conneally, public communications manager, IFRC
Mobile: +41 79 308 98 09 – E-mail: