(AFP) – Nov 3, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Red Cross relief agency said Saturday it was stepping up efforts to help those struck by Hurricane Sandy, amid fears a new storm could hit the US East Coast next week.
As millions in New York, New Jersey and the region picked up the pieces in Sandy's devastating wake, forecasters are warning another bout of bad weather could bring biting wind, rain and possibly even snow to the region.
"Red Cross' operational priorities right now are logistics, feeding and preparing for the pending storm," Charley Shimanski, the organization's senior vice president of disaster services, told reporters.
"We're pushing heavy mobilization and distribution of food resources."
In particular, the group -- in coordination with local authorities -- was setting up warming shelters throughout the region in coordination with local authorities where those without power could seek refuge.
"We're working closely with emergency operations centers to stand up warming facilities, warming shelters, and stocking those with additional blankets, pillows and everything needed," Shimanski said.
On Friday, the Red Cross served about 400,000 meals and snacks, he said.
The Weather Channel said forecasts point to the possibility of "very windy, rainy and cold" weather from Wednesday into Thursday in the US northeast.
"In simple terms, at this point we do not expect the impacts to 'break anything that is not already broken,'" the TV channel said on its website.
"However the combination of weather impacts will add insult to injury for the recovery process along the East Coast."
With ongoing power outages and fuel shortages, Shimanski said the Red Cross was mobilizing its entire fleet of 323 emergency response vehicles from across the country, as well as its complete volunteer workforce.
This includes calling in reinforcement from abroad.
"To date, more than 4,200 Red Cross volunteers are on the ground, we're mobilizing thousands more," Shimanski said.
"We're bringing in Red Cross support from Mexico and from Canada as well in certain leadership and other roles."
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said more than 122,000 people had signed up for help and that direct deposits totaling more than $107 million had been approved by early Saturday.
"These numbers continue to go up as people register," he said.
With some 18,000 people in shelters, Fugate said his agency has activated a short-term housing assistance program supplying vouchers for hotels and motels.
Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey late Monday, killed at least 103 people and brought New York City to a standstill.
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