3 minute readDisaster
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Hurricane Michael: Your Top Questions Answered

Drone footage of Hurricane MIchael damage in Florida.
Drone footage of Hurricane Michael damage in Florida.

Hurricane Michael, noted as one of the strongest storms to hit the U.S. since 1969, made landfall off the coast of Northern Florida on Wednesday, October 10. Since then, people from across the country have generously donated their time and money to the Red Cross to support the tens of thousands living in the path of this life-threatening storm. As response efforts expand, one of our goals is to provide you with information that can help keep you and your loved ones safe. So we’ve compiled a list of common questions and concerns below that we hope you’ll share far and wide to help those affected by Hurricane Michael.

I’m currently in one of the affected areas, and I need help. Can you help me?

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

To find an open Red Cross shelter near you, visit redcross.org/shelters, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or download the free Red Cross Emergency App.

 An elderly woman laying on a cot talking to a Red Cross volunteer.

How do I let my loved ones know I’m safe?

You can give your loved ones peace of mind by marking yourself as safe at redcross.org/safeandwell.

A graphic detailing safe and well information.

I want to evacuate and stay in one of your shelters, but I heard you don’t allow pets…

A shelter resident sitting on a bed with her dog.

For the well-being of our shelter residents who have pet allergies, asthma, and other health issues, there often needs to be physical space between animals and people. The only exception to this are service animals for people with disabilities because they aren’t considered pets.

BUT, we don’t expect you to leave your pets at home and we don’t want you to because like you, we view pets as family members. And these organizations make every effort to provide pet shelters that are close to our shelters so you can visit your furry friends frequently.

Pet-friendly shelters can be found in Alabama and Florida.

Here are tips to help you prepare your pets for an emergency evacuation and help them recover afterward.

I’m collecting food and items for those affected by Michael. Can I drop them off at a shelter location?

We can’t thank you enough for your generosity, but honestly sometimes these items can do more harm than good.

This is the reality of what can happen…

A heaping pile of in-kind donations that need to be sorted.
A photo from Texas in 2017 by Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP.

Unfortunately, sometimes an outpouring of good intentions can become a literal mountain of stuff.

Please know that our first priority is the safety and well-being of those affected by disasters. The reality is that it takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items. These things take time and resources away from the people who need them most. And unfortunately, some well-intentioned donations of clothing or other items may be inadvertently soiled or dirty, which can cause illness. However, we might accept large, bulk donations of new items if they fit the needs of those affected in a specific area.

The best way to help during a disaster like this is with financial donations because they allow us to be flexible to give those directly impacted by Michael what they need most. Financial donations can be used right away to replace items like medicine or a pair of glasses.

How Can I Be Sure That the Money I Donate Will Go Directly to Michael Victims?

A woman and her husband stand outside of a Red Cross emergency vehicle to get a meal.

Trust us when we say that we will honor your donor intent. An average of 91 cents of each dollar spent will go toward providing shelter, food, relief items, health and emotional support and financial assistance for those impacted by the storm. You can designate your donation specifically to Michael relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MICHAEL to 90999 to make a $10 donation Your generosity makes an impact, and we can’t thank you enough for your support.


I’m not able to donate right now. Is there another way I can help?

We’d love to have you join us and we appreciate your willingness to help. If you live in Northern Florida or Southern Georgia, please visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

You can also find other volunteer opportunities at nvoad.org.

Did you know that disasters like Michael affect our nation’s blood supply? To help meet patient needs, we are asking those who are eligible to give blood. Click here to make an appointment now.