By Kim Walter
The American Red Cross is urging residents to finish preparations for Hurricane Sandy and to consider donating blood.
The Virginia Mountain Region chapter of the Red Cross sent out a news release on Monday describing its responses to the current weather situation.
The region, which encompasses 50 counties along the western portion of the stat, is "mobilizing volunteers, shelters, relief supplies and disaster vehicles to help," Lee Clarke, CEO for the region, stated in the release. "All our resources will remain here in case there is a need for a local response to the storm."
The region also will help to support those to the east and north, once the needs of local communities have been met, Clark added.
Clark advises local families to be ready now, and stay informed about Sandy's progress.
Information about getting ready for the storm and its effects, like flooding, power outages and even winter weather, can be found on the Red Cross website: redcross.org.
Additionally, people can download the free Red Cross Hurricane and First Aid apps for mobile devices. The hurricane app will provide continuous coverage of the weather, locations of Red Cross shelters and features a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. An "I'm safe" button is also part of the app, and is linked to social media sites so that users can tell friends and family the are okay.
The app is also available in Spanish.
The First Aid app includes expert advice for everyday emergencies. Both apps can be found in the Apple app store and Google Play store by searching "American Red Cross."
Residents can help the Red Cross through monetary and blood donations, the release states.
"This will be a large, costly relief response and we need help now," Clark said.
Donations to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief can be made online, by text or phone. The funds help provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy, according to the release.
Visit the website, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Blood donations are also being encouraged by the Red Cross. The release states that the storm has already "caused the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in the region, and more cancellations are expected."
These cancellations have resulted in the loss of several hundred units of blood and platelets so far, and while the Red Cross has already shipped blood products to hospitals in affected areas, more might be needed.
Nationwide, an average of 44,000 blood donations are needed daily by patients who rely on blood products during treatment for various things, and the need does not diminish when disaster strikes.
Individual appointments can be made by calling the Red Cross or visiting the website.
As of Monday, there are still several blood drives scheduled for the area:
-- Tuesday, from 1 to 7 p.m., in Winchester at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center
-- Wednesday, from 1 to 7 p.m. in Front Royal at the American Legion
-- Thursday, from 1 to 6 p.m. in Strasburg at the Strasburg Moose Lodge; from noon to 6 p.m. in Winchester at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center; from noon to 6 p.m. in Woodstock at the American Legion
-- Friday, from 1 to 7 p.m. in Stephens City at Stephens City United Methodist Church; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Winchester at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center.
The schedule is subject to change depending on the weather impact in our area. Visit the Red Cross website or call for updates.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org