Donations Needed to Alleviate Losses Caused by Major Flooding

September 20, 2011

Red Cross Calls For Blood Donations Immediately To Alleviate Inventory Losses Caused By Major Flooding

Storm causes blood drive cancellations and a shortfall in inventory


Hurricane Irene and subsequent severe storms throughout the Northeast have caused major flooding, forcing the cancellation of 142 American Red Cross blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of more than 4,700 units of blood to date and affecting the ability of volunteer blood donors to travel to drives to give blood.  

These numbers could rise in the days ahead as residents in affected areas deal with power outages, road closures and cleanup. Many parts of Pennsylvania have been dramatically affected by the flooding, resulting in the loss of over 640 units of blood since Thursday in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Region alone. For those areas not heavily impacted, the Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations. Community members in affected areas are asked to consider donating blood once it is safe to do so.  Blood has a limited shelf life and platelets have a shelf-life of just five days.  

“The recent extreme weather has severely impacted our ability to build blood inventories up to sufficient levels,” stated Donna M. Morrissey, Director of Communications, American Red Cross – Northeast Division.  “If people make an appointment to donate blood in the upcoming days and weeks ahead, blood will continue to be available in spite of conditions currently prohibiting many donors in storm ravaged areas from traveling or coming to blood drives.”       

The Red Cross is still working to stabilize the blood supply following the challenging summer season, and the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.  The ensuing heavy rains may continue to cause difficulties in scheduling blood drives for some time. When disaster strikes, the need for blood does not diminish, even though blood donors may find it difficult or impossible to get to a convenient donation opportunity. If collections are negatively impacted by a disaster, the long-term needs of these patients could also be affected.

“Despite the fact that flood waters were encroaching on their homes and those of their friends and family, Red Cross workers were there providing food, shelter, and blood products for people in need,” remarked Tony Ferlenda, CEO, American Red Cross Blood Services Northeastern Pennsylvania Region.  “These selfless acts of humanitarianism exemplify the spirit of the Red Cross, and blood donors show this same spirit each time they donate blood.”

Across the country, Red Cross blood centers are struggling to keep pace with demand.  Nationwide, around 44,000 blood donations are needed each and every day to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients, and children with blood disorders. These patients and others rely on blood products during their treatment. 

To schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit us online at or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit

The American Red Cross Blood Services - Northeast Division must distribute approximately 3,000 units of blood each day just to meet the basic needs of area patients. Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.