Manatee, Sarasota Red Cross volunteers help with storm aftermath

nwilliams@bradenton.comJune 27, 2012 

MANATEE -- Dozens of American Red Cross volunteers from Manatee and Sarasota counties are taking part in disaster relief efforts in northern Hillsborough and Pasco County in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby.

Authorities in Pasco County issued a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday for 2,000 homes, reports say.

At least a dozen disaster response volunteers from the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Red Cross have been sent to the Tampa Bay Region, along with the chapter’s mobile operation unit, emergency response vehicle and van carrying supplies and food for residents and workers.

“A lot of effort is going to the Pasco area,” said Jeff Carlson, the chapter’s public information officer.

In total, 48 volunteers from the chapter have been assisting in disaster response.

“Our focus is on shelter, food and damage assessment,” Carlson said.

The chapter has already helped those affected in the Manatee area.

When May and Jeremy Galloway were left homeless after their 26-foot live-aboard vessel slammed into a floating dock on Anna Maria Island, the chapter provided food, lodging and clothes.

Carlson said a national response team from the Red Cross is in the Tampa Bay area and local assistance may last for weeks.

“We offer resources to help them put their lives back together,” Carlson said.

In addition, Florida's Blood Centers has sent out an urgent call for blood donations, reporting that Tropical Storm Debby has critically impacted the Gulf Coast area blood supply.

Those interested in donating blood should call toll free 1-888-9DONATE or visit www.floridasbloodcenters.org.

To contact the local chapter of the Red Cross, call 941-379-9300.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7049. Twitter: @_1NickWilliams.

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