(WHNT) — Many of those affected by the tornadoes that tore through the Southeast are still processing everything that happened. While communities are in need of several different things, one things for certain: many people lost almost everything.
As the death toll continues to rise, Alabamians are preparing to help their neighbors any way they can, but the American Red Cross says not so fast.
Annette Rowland with the American Red Cross says this is a massive operation between the areas of devastation.
“We’ve been told that roads are not accessible right now,” Rowland told News 19. “So that’s a problem, but we’re moving as quickly as we can to get supplies and get people where they need to be.”
“But, right now in Kentucky we’ve got about 190 people who are taking up sheltering,” said Rowland.
Rowland oversees both Alabama and Mississippi for the American Red Cross, stating the number one priority of the organization is the people’s safety.
As the organization continues to receive updates from the six states impacted by the storms, Rowland says more positions will open up in the coming weeks.
“Right now we’ve been doing our call downs to check with our volunteers to see who’s available and we have two on standby to help with the damage assessment part,” Rowland said.
Each community has different needs after a disaster like this weekend’s storms, but Rowland says the organization is working with officials to assess those needs.
“We’re not there yet, you know, we’re still continuing to shelter people and just make sure that people have a safe place to stay and food to eat,” stated Rowland.
With many Alabamians are wanting to help, Rowland told News 19 sometimes running to affected communities can add more stress.
If you’re strongly considering helping out, Rowland says listen to what officials are saying.
“Let first responders do their job, please do not show up in these communities as they are trying to figure out what’s going on,” Rowland continued.
In the coming days and weeks more information about specific needs and volunteer opportunities will become available. Rowland says the best way to help right now is through financial donations.
“I will tell you that the Red Cross [is] proud that 90 cents of every dollar donated to us goes directly into helping people recover from disasters, making sure that we’re feeding, that we are providing blankets that we are providing those critical relief supplies that they need,” Rowland added.
To volunteer or donate, visit the American Red Cross website.
Rowland also emphasized that one of the biggest shortages they’ll be sufferings from is blood.
“We are in a blood shortage and in all of those areas, blood drives wont be happening,” Rowland concluded.
To make an appointment to donate blood, click here.
While times like these can send your donations to the wrong hands, Rowland recommends to visit CharityNavigaor.org, the website breaks down how charities and organizations donate to relief efforts.