East Texas Red Cross volunteers and ETMC EMS strike teams are on standby as Hurricane Harvey bears down on the Texas Gulf Coast.
As the storm strengthens, the state's three Red Cross regions all stand to be impacted, but the North Texas region impacted the least, according to Tammy Prater, executive director of the American Red Cross East Texas Area.
However, that doesn't mean they're not making preparations. Teams are working phones and email to ensure they're ready in case help is needed for emergency shelters for those who evacuate the storm's path.
"Right now, we are on standby," Prater said. "We're calling all the shelters in every county to let them know they are on standby and we're calling our volunteers to see what their availability is."
The East Texas Area of the Red Cross will not be sending anyone into the Gulf Coast until it is safe to get there, she said, and the agency also is waiting to see how the storm will impact East Texas.
With heavy rains expected in east Texas and many low lying areas that can flood, the Red Cross will be available to assist people in those areas.
East Texas Medical Center also is prepared to help if needed. Over the years, ETMC EMS has helped with several hurricane evacuations from the Gulf Coast and are part of the state's team called in to help, according to ETMC spokeswoman Rebecca Berkley.
"ETMC's Air 1 was also put on standby to assist," Berkley said. "For helicopters, its more about helping after the storms if patients need evacuations."
Carter BloodCare is encouraging those who would like to donate blood to do so in the next few days so the organization can boost its own supply in hopes of sending any extra supply to Houston and Corpus Christi area hospitals and blood programs.
The blood programs and hospitals in Harvey’s path are expecting the hurricane to interfere with collections from their blood donors for several days, according to a Carter BloodCare news release.
Linda Goelzer, Carter BloodCare’s director of public relations, said Coastal Bend Blood Center in Corpus Christi and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston have contacted them in advance of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall.
MD Anderson anticipates a need for extra platelets for patients’ cancer treatments, knowing the local Houston area blood programs could be affected.
East Texas blood donors can give blood at a community blood drive or an east Texas donor center in Tyler, Longview or Paris.
Platelets may be separated from the whole blood given at the community blood drive. At a donor center, automated machines collect only platelets and return the other blood components to the donor.
Again, Carter BloodCare cannot guarantee donations will go to the coastal areas. However, the more blood it receives, the more likely it will be able to support blood programs and hospitals in the hurricane’s path.
City Editor Emily Guevara contributed to this report.