3 minute readDisaster

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.

join the conversation.

We encourage you to comment on this blog. All viewpoints are welcome, but please be constructive. We reserve the right to make editorial decisions regarding submitted comments, including but not limited to removal of comments. The comments are moderated, so you may have to be a tiny bit patient in waiting to see them. We will review and post them as promptly as possible during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 – 5:00). Please read our full comment policy.

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  1. The “Red Cross Chat” is a needed, wonderful and concise update of the most important things to be aware of in regard to Hurricane Michael and the frequent questions raised by its devastation. The readers are educated on how those in the affected areas can get help, how missing loved ones can be reached through the “Safe and Well” program, where to turn when evacuation, shelters, and pet-safety are needed. The article educates us on how in-kind donations can best be handled, and informs us how an average 91 cents of every dollar will be spent on the disaster needs of those affected. We are also encouraged to give our blood for those in need. Whoever put all this together, good job and thank you. Opportunities abound and they are deeply meaningful for all of us.

  2. Can american red cross help me financially I’m homeless with four children

  3. Hi Kanyshia, We are very sorry to hear of your difficult circumstances. Please call “211” to be referred to social service agencies and resources in your community which may be available to assist you. Homelessness is outside the scope of our services, therefore the American Red Cross is unable to provide financial assistance. But there are other organizations whose missions are focused on homelessness. We send our best wishes for better days ahead.

  4. Ive put in for sba loan .but its taking forever , i need a roof so bad. Is there any grants or anything to help me.

  5. Hi Rita, we are sorry to hear of the situation you described. At this time, the Red Cross is not accepting applications for Hurricane Michael assistance on its website, over the phone or at its offices. Please visit: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief/hurricane-relief/hurricane-michael-relief-information/michael-financial-assistance.html or Redcross.org/MichaelRecovery. The Red Cross is reaching out directly to impacted households using a combination of Red Cross damage assessment information and FEMA inspection data. For questions about additional services available to you, call 2-1-1 or visit the FEMA Hurricane Michael Page > https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-michael. We send our best wishes to you for better days ahead.

  6. Hurricane Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach Fl., (Gulf County Fl.) My family and I rode out the hurricane in the very next county it hit which is Calhoun Co. Fl., the highest sustained winds recorded here were 185 miles per hour, which means when it hit Mexico Beach the winds were substantially higher,,, with that said it is not true that the highest sustained winds were 155 miles per hour. This hurricane has been greatly down played…..

  7. I’ve been trying to contact someone about the disaster relief for about a month and a half finally I’ve got someone unbelievable disbursement

    This person transfer me back to the very same number I've been calling for a month and a half please help me