Alabama resources prep to help hurricane victims

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As Hurricane Matthew began to threaten our coastal neighbors, Alabama’s aid resources were dispatched immediately. The Alabama Red Cross already has already deployed 15 volunteers and three paid employees and more will follow.

“We stage folks in certain areas and then when the actual impact occurs, they can go and they’re there. They’re ready to set up the shelters,” said Mark Beddingfield, CEO of the American Red Cross Alabama Region. He says the services these volunteers and employees provide are vital for those affected by the storm.

“They may not have a place to stay, so that’s where we come in to make sure that they’ve got a place – a warm place to stay, a warm place to be, clothes to wear, food to eat,” said Beddingfield.

Keisa Sharpe agrees. She’s a spokesperson for Alabama Power, and she says the company is planning to dispatch 450 crew members to Georgia Saturday morning.

“We have lots of years and lots of experience in responding to storm outages and storm restoration so we lean on those in our staff and crew who are prepared and who have done this many many times before,” said Sharpe.

As the effects of Matthew in neighboring states become apparent, all of these resources will be working toward a common goal: restoring some sense of normalcy to the lives of those affected.

“We go out into the neighborhoods and into the areas that were impacted to see what kind of damage took place, and that’s when we start helping folks recover,” said Beddingfield.

One of the main functions of the Alabama Red Cross is collecting blood donations, and with Hurricane Matthew closing in, they want to be ready. Right now Beddingfield says their supply is stable, but the need is ongoing. He says they need a constant influx of donors to maintain the supply and if you wait to donate until a after disaster occurs, it could be 30 hours before the blood is ready to use.

Also, the unused supply doesn’t last indefinitely. Beddingfield says red cells expire after 42 days and platelets expire after only five. 

“Blood donations are always needed, no matter the time of the year, but especially when we get in times where there are situations like what’s going on right now with the weather situation. There may be an increased need,” said Beddingfield. “We want to make sure that we have that supply on hand for the hospital’s when they need it.”

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