Red Cross gearing up for potential Dorian relief efforts

Leaders say they are waiting to see the full impact of the storm, but they anticipate opening more shelters

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —As Dorian moves its way up the coast, officials with the American Red Cross South Carolina Region are carefully following its path to see how they can help those affected by the storm.

Ever since Governor McMaster called for the evacuation of eight coastal counties, nearly 20 Red Cross shelters opened their doors, providing shelter to less than 300 people last night.

As the storm moves north, Red Cross leaders are discussing ways to help more people across the state.

With volunteers across the state are gearing up for their potential response to Hurricane Dorian, some Red Cross leaders say one way they are helping is by providing more places to stay for people fleeing the coast.

“We’re anticipating that we could have more that could come to seek shelter, so we’re looking at opening those. We work with our South Carolina emergency management partners and determine where is close enough, but also a safe enough distance from the coast,” said Rebecca Jordan, the Executive Director of the Central SC Chapter of the American Red Cross.

So far, shelters have opened near cities like Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Florence.

Jordan says her team of volunteers is prepared to help others no matter where they are needed.

Even though they don’t go active until a storm makes landfall, Columbia Relief provides assistance with volunteers and facilitating donations of items like food and toiletries.

“As in 2015, we staffed almost all the shelters in the state, we provided most of the volunteer relief services, allowing the National Guard and the Red Cross to allow their more experienced staff to handle things at a higher level,” said Cory Alpert, the Executive Director of Columbia Relief.

Even though the storm could change a lot in the next few days, Jordan says it’s better to be prepared.

“What we don’t want are people to become complacent and say ‘well, it’s off the coast.’ Right now, I think there’s still a lot of ‘wait and see’ so we will just prepare like we do every day of the year,” Jordan said.

Red Cross leaders at the national level are keeping South Carolina volunteers in state for the time being in order to meet the need of areas potentially impacted by the storm.

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