$8,500 donated for American Red Cross storm disaster needs

The local Red Cross has been working for more than a week, helping people without power and other storm victims. Now they are asking the community for help.

(WBIR) The American Red Cross of East Tennessee has been working without rest since winter storms hit last week. Now they need help from the public.

WBIR is partnering with American Red Cross of East Tennessee to help people impacted by the storms. Donations and supplies are low.

As of Wednesday afternoon, $8,500 has been donated for the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Michelle Hankes, chapter executive director, said the organization needs money, it needs blankets and toiletries to give to clients and it needs more volunteers in its shelters.

"This has been a drawn-out disaster," Hankes tells 10News. "We've been doing very well being very frugal, but we've reached a point where donations are really needed."

The first storm hit Monday, Feb. 16, bringing ice and sub-freezing temperatures. Thousands of people in Knox and surrounding counties were without power. Then snow moved in. Then, overnight Friday more snow and ice fell across the Plateau and East Tennesssee, damaging buildings and knocking out power to even more people.

"This storm is unique. With a tornado, it comes through, whips things up, then you rebuild," she said. "This is just the storm that keeps giving, and East Tennessee from the Sevier County area all the way to the Cumberland Plateau has gotten the brunt of it."

Twenty different shelters have been open over the course of the last week, Hankes said. Some are still open and some have since closed. Each has seen anywhere between five people and 200 people.

Red Cross has an app you can use to help locate shelters. It's called Shelter Find and there's more information about it at www.redcross.org.

List of Red Cross shelters:

  • Cumberland- Cumberland Fellowship Baptist Church
  • Fentress- First Baptist Church, Jamestown
  • Overton- Wilson Elementary
  • Putnam- First United Methodist Church
  • White- National Guard Armory

On Sunday night more than 300 people were sheltered in the Cumberland Plateau area, which suffered from heavy ice and widespread damage and power outages from downed trees.

A wide variety of Red Cross volunteers are helping out.

"So they are working as shelter volunteers, working as case managers, we have mental health consultants who are going out and talking to families who have grief with the losses we have seen the last week," she said. "So, we have people who are doing data entry, we have others who are watching the numbers and our dollars to make sure that every single dollar is accounted."

More: Tennessee still under state of emergency

Related: Cumberland Co residents look for warmth during mass outage

Here's how you can help.

To donate money, call 865-584-2999. You may reach an answering service, but a volunteer will call you back. You can also visit their website. Please spread the message using #GiveBackEastTN on social media.

You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes.


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