Michiganders are asked to donate blood in light of shortage caused by hurricane

LANSING – As the force of Hurricane Sandy continues to reach across the east coast of the nation, the American Red Cross is ready to offer assistance to those in need. “Our chapters are mobilizing volunteers, shelters, relief supplies and disaster vehicles to help,” said Alison Bono, regional director of communications, in a press release. “The best thing families can do is to get ready now by staying informed about Sandy’s progress, listening to the advice of local authorities, checking their emergency supplies and reviewing their household’s emergency plan.” The Red Cross is moving disaster workers into areas that weather experts say will be affected by the storm and has more than 100 emergency response vehicles on alert. The Red Cross also is working closely with government officials, as well as community partners to coordinate response efforts. An estimated 7.4 million people were without power, and the reported U.S. death toll ranged from 26 to 38 on Tuesday. The Thumb area was the hardest hit in Michigan, with overnight wind gusts at 74 miles per hour near Fort Gratiot on Lake Huron and 55 mph on land in Port Hope, according to the National Weather Service. Waves on Lake Huron reached 20-feet-tall and 35-feet-tall on Lake Michigan. Michigan residents can support the Red Cross’ relief efforts by donating blood. About 300 blood drives in 14 states on the east coast have been canceled due to the hurricane, resulting in a deficit of about 9,000 units of blood and platelets as of Tuesday. Nationwide, around 44,000 blood donations are needed each day to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients and children with blood disorders.The need may further increase when disaster strikes. Those interested in donating blood can visit
for more information about upcoming local blood drives. Scheduled blood drives will take place: • Nov. 7, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pine River High School in LeRoy; • Nov. 8, from noon to 6 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Reed City; • Nov. 14, from noon to 6 p.m. at Austin Township Hall in Stanwood; • Nov. 21, from noon to 6 p.m. at Mecosta County Medical Center in Big Rapids; and • Nov. 26, from 1 to 6 p.m. at New Hope United Methodist Church in Mecosta. Another way to assist the Red Cross in its relief efforts is to volunteer. A free volunteer training course will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday at the South Central Chapter in Jackson and at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Mid-Michigan Chapter in Lansing. Call (517) 702-3167 to register and for more information. The Mecosta-Osceola branch of the Red Cross is working to schedule a local training session, although the time and date is not set. Continue to check the Red Cross website or call the local branch at (231) 796-6562 for more information. The Red Cross also would appreciate monetary donations during this natural disaster. To make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, visit www.redcross.org , call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions also may be sent to the Mecosta-Osceola chapter of the Red Cross at 218 S. Warren Ave., Big Rapids, MI 49307. More information on the impact of Hurricane Sandy and how to prepare will be distributed by the Red Cross via its website and through a mobile app. A free Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices provides real-time hurricane safety information such as weather alerts and where Red Cross shelters are located. The app also features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. The one-touch “I’m Safe” button lets people use social media outlets to tell family and friends they are okay. The Hurricane App also is available in Spanish; users just need to make sure the language setting on their smart phone is set to Spanish before downloading. The First Aid app shares expert advice for everyday emergencies. The apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.