JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Red Cross is helping with relief efforts after Hurricane Michael, while dealing with a loss of its own from the powerful storm. The Red Cross office and an emergency response vehicle in Panama City were destroyed by the storm.
Still, Christian Smith, with the Northeast Florida Red Cross, said the agency has activated workers and volunteers to feed and help victims of Hurricane Michael any way possible, and she hopes Michael serves as a wake-up call for people unprepared for disasters.
"We're watching what people are going through," Smith said. "We've been through this with Matthew and Irma, but this is a little bit different. This is catastrophic, but it's a reminder for all of us that this could have been our community, and in some ways, it is our community. Please continue to be diligent. Make sure you have your disaster supply kit in place, as well as a plan."
Smith said the best way for people to help right now is by donating funds to the Red Cross because of the logistics involved and the extent of the devastation.
"Financial contributions helps give us the flexibility to do what we need to do right at that moment," Smith said. "Plus, it allows us to put resources back into the economy and into those communities. Everything we do is mostly in bulk, but we do have areas where we are purchasing supplies right in that area."
She advises people to not just drive down with supplies now, because it could interfere with current relief efforts by the Red Cross, National Guard and other official disaster relief teams.
"Allow emergency personnel do their jobs. Let us get in. Let us feed and take care of people. Let us keep people in the shelters and then wait a little bit and let that time go by to see what those needs are in addition to (other supplies)," Smith said.
You can donate to the Red Cross HERE.