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The last few major storms America has suffered through have made one thing abundantly clear: You can’t count on relief from conventional or expected sources, like the government.

What we have seen is amazing work done by private agencies like Samaritan’s Purse, which have been first on the scene at most weather disaster in the U.S. in the past few years and have had hundreds of volunteers helping out on the ground ahead of any government efforts.

That will likely be the case again. Faith-based Samaritan’s Purse accepts donations of cash and goods  – you can click here to find out how to contribute. We literally trust them with our lives — and being Floridians, we’re in a position to say that. The organization also has the full endorsement of the Southeast Produce Council.

There is, of course, also the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross urges everyone to take three important action steps to get prepared:

  1. Build a kit – Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you must evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit and medications.
  2. Make a plan – Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated and choose two places to meet—one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  3. Be informed Know what kinds of emergency situations may occur where you live, where you work, and where you go to school. Get trained in First Aid and CPR/AED so you’ll know what to do in an emergency if help is delayed. Don’t forget your pets, plan for them too.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross Emergency App has more than 35 customizable severe weather and emergency alerts. Content on what to do before, during and after emergencies from power outages to home fires, to hurricanes and tornadoes, can be viewed in English or Spanish. Parents can download the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App so 7- to 11-year-olds will have a fun, gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies and what to do if one occurs. Apps can be downloaded for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores or visiting redcross.org/apps. People can also enable Red Cross skills for Alexa to receive notifications about an approaching hurricane, get valuable first aid information and schedule a blood donation. Details are available at redcross.org/alexa-skills.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD Severe weather events can have a significant impact on the ability of the Red Cross to collect lifesaving blood products due to cancelled blood drives and decreased donor turnout in impacted areas. It is the blood already on hand that helps those in need. Each day, the Red Cross must collect about 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,500 platelet donations to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients and children with blood disorders. Volunteer blood and platelet donors are needed to help save lives. Eligible donors are encouraged to schedule a donation appointment by using the Blood Donor Skill for Amazon Alexa, the Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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