NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Hurricane Fiona made landfall along Puerto Rico’s southwest coast Sunday, knocking power out to the entire island. More than two feet of rain fell in some areas, with homes and roads destroyed by floodwaters.
When disaster strikes, The American Red Cross is there to help, and the Tennessee Region of the Red Cross is already in gear.
Sherri McKinney, the Regional Communications Director for the Red Cross Tennessee Region, says that some of their staff members are already in Puerto Rico.
“Three members of our staff have left as of yesterday in response to deployment requests,” McKinney said. “We do expect to see more volunteers being asked to deploy as well.”
The American Red Cross already has a strong presence in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria.
“Fortunately for us, following 2017, we were able to contribute $1.5 million for solar microgrid system power systems to be installed there in Puerto Rico following Maria,” McKinney said. “So, many of the shelters that we’re using down there that are operated by the government have power because of that solar grid system.”
Those shelters are currently housing 1,700 residents. Getting Puerto Rico’s residents meals and a place to sleep is the Red Cross’s main priority.
“When it becomes safe, we are going out, and we are doing case surveillance on each home and figuring out in each residence, and figuring out what kind of damages folks have suffered and what assistance we can provide them and where we can get them on the next path to recovery,” said McKinney.
She also says they are looking for volunteers.
“We are aggressively looking for volunteers who perhaps would be willing to become trained as disaster volunteers who have a Spanish background who can speak two languages, that is critical whenever we’re doing responses, like what we’re seeing in Puerto Rico.”
For Middle Tennesseans who want to help, McKinney said that monetary donations will make the most impact right now.
If you want to get involved, you can donate to redcross.org. You can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find out how you can help or text “Red Cross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
All funds that are donated to the American Red Cross go out for disaster relief.