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USVI Was Decimated During Hurricane IRMA

Now more than ever we need help from people around the world. We're asking for donations to help rebuild St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, after the wake of IRMA's destructive path. As a Category 5 Hurricane, IRMA was one of the most devastating hurricanes of all time. Please spend 5 minutes donating to help rebuild our beloved U.S. Virgin Islands.

All donations will go to the American Red Cross and other local 501(c)(3) charities.

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  • Situation Update
  • Red Cross Response
  • Photos
  • Live Updates

September 18, 2017 at 6:00 AM ET


As access to flooded neighborhoods continues to improve, situational awareness of the true effects of Hurricane Irma continues to improve. The communities surrounding Jacksonville, Ft. Myers/Naples and the Keys are the center of gravity for relief support, where residents are reeling from flooding, power outages and no running water. Irma ravaged much of Florida’s 65,755 square miles. The geographical distances, compounded by fuel shortages, impassable roads, and power outages, have challenged response efforts. We are working with our partners to overcome these challenges to deliver services.

In the Florida Keys, officials estimate that 25 percent of the homes are destroyed and 90 percent damaged. The Red Cross is preparing to support an estimated 10,000 people with feeding and sheltering support for what could be weeks.

A massive international relief operation is underway in the Caribbean, where multiple island nations bore the brunt of Irma’s wrath. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 99 per cent of infrastructure in Barbuda was affected by Hurricane Irma, and that 90 per cent of the electrical systems were damaged. The hospital in Barbuda suffered severe damage and is currently incapable of offering medical services. In St. Kitts and Nevis, much of the infrastructure of the island has been damaged, making access to clean water supplies a priority.


Red Cross Response to Hurricane Irma


Domestic Response

On Friday night more than 4,700 people were provided refuge in more than 77 government and Red Cross shelters across Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes:

  • In Florida, more than 4,400 people in 68 evacuation shelters.
  • In Georgia, 14 people in 1 shelter.
  • On the U.S. Virgin Islands, 185 people in 4 evacuation shelters.
  • In Puerto Rico, more than 90 people in 4 evacuation shelters

Cumulative: Nearly 3,000 Red Cross workers are responding to Irma now, with more than 400 volunteers on the way. These workers have helped with the following to date:

Evacuation centers have provided more than half a million (533,000) overnight stays to people needing a safe place to go;

Served nearly 404,000 meals and snacks across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands;

Mental health and health services professionals have provided more than 12,900 contacts to provide support and care to those affected across six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and

Almost 100 emergency response vehicles have been activated to help.

As of September 14, the Red Cross has raised nearly $17 million to support Hurricane Irma, with more still coming in. We have not received enough donations at this point to cover this massive relief effort. The Red Cross honors donor intent. Funds raised for Irma will be spent to help those affected by Irma. The organization estimates disaster relief and recovery efforts in response to this hurricane could cost tens of millions of dollars more, and last many months and even years.


International Response

As we continue to respond to Hurricane Irma, the Danish Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross are deploying members to Florida and the Virgin Islands to help with the U.S. relief efforts. Meanwhile Red Cross Societies from around the world are responding on Caribbean islands where Hurricane Irma left behind catastrophic devastation, starting what could become a complex, multi-country relief and recovery effort. The current priority is to serve immediate needs which include search and rescue, the distribution of vital relief supplies, damage and needs assessments as well as steps to reduce the risk of epidemic outbreaks.

On Wednesday, the first aircraft carrying 21 tons of humanitarian aid sent by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) arrived in Antigua to support families affected by Hurricane Irma. This cargo will meet the basic needs of 500 families in Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis. Stephany Murillo, Logistics Manager at IFRC in Panama, said the initial response had been complicated by geography but aid was getting through.

“This operation represented a logistical challenge, because of the complexity of the coordination between several destinations,” she said. “After the impact of a hurricane, weather conditions make air traffic difficult, we were able to solve this matter quickly and help could be sent from Panama.”

The humanitarian aid sent to help people affected consists of kitchen kits, hygiene kits, tarpaulins, blankets and mosquito nets. This assistance will be distributed to 300 families in Antigua and Barbuda, and in St Kitts and Nevis 200 families will receive support. The IFRC also sent generators to the National Societies to ensure they could continue their operations regardless of the stability of the power supply.

To support this multi-country relief and recovery effort, the IFRC is working with the British, French, Netherlands and American Red Cross societies to coordinate and support preparedness and response efforts.

Blood Services

As of September 15, Hurricane Irma has forced the cancellation of nearly 100 American Red Cross blood drives in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, resulting in nearly 2,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations. We expect fewer donors to come out to donate at drives in and around affected areas of the Southeast.

To assist impacted blood centers in Florida, the Red Cross is providing platelet support to the primary blood center in Florida to support hospitals needing products in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. We plan to provide additional platelets through the end of the week. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in demand.

Through our national inventory system, the Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to wherever and whenever it is needed most.

We encourage eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by Hurricane Irma to give blood or platelets to help ensure a sufficient blood supply. Platelet and type O blood donations are especially needed right now. The Red Cross depends on generous volunteer blood donors to provide lifesaving blood for those in need – each and every day – not only during times of disaster. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

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