How can you help ahead of Hurricane Irma? Donate blood

CLEVELAND-- As Hurricane Irma makes its way towards Florida, the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region is getting ready to assist with the recovery efforts.

"We have the opportunity to deploy resources and people. All four of our emergency response vehicles were sent down to Texas already and we sent dozens of people there. We have already pre-deployed almost a dozen people down south in preparation of Irma," said CEO Michael Parks.

According to Parks, local volunteers are being sent to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Among the volunteers are those who are just getting back from helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

"We have thousands of people there. We continue to support them and will continue to support them. We are flowing in other resources there and that’s what we are doing here in Northeast Ohio as well as raising funds," said Parks.

Parks himself is leaving Sunday morning.

"I was originally told to head to Daytona, that got shifted to Orlando, that has moved to Atlanta maybe Macon," Parks said.

So what can people in Northeast Ohio do to help?

Parks said the best thing is donate money and donate blood.

"Houston, the fourth largest metro area in the country, hasn’t collected blood the past two weeks and for weeks to come. There was a blood shortage before. It’s a crisis now. And as Irma hits Florida, the whole state is being evacuated and moved about. So there is no collection going on in that state," Parks said.

The Red Cross is offering two-day training sessions every week through October in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Wooster.

You must be registered at RedCross.org/NEO and click the volunteer tab.