American Red Cross ready to handle a disaster during the pandemic

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – When a disaster strikes, there can be a lot of uncertainty. That’s why the Bluegrass chapter of the American Red Cross wants to ensure it can still help even during a pandemic, but it will look different.

The Red Cross immediately took action at the start of COVID-19 shutdowns in March and the chapter said a lot has changed.

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In response to any disaster like wind storms, flooding, tornadoes, or ice storms, volunteers are required to use PPE and have symptom checks. If they can, they meet with a client virtually.

A big change is in sheltering. A typical shelter that could hold 200 people can now only hold about 50 due to social distancing. However, the Red Cross said it has a long list of shelters in Kentucky that could help if needed.

The red cross has been having a lot of conversations with more hotels to help provide rooms, which is the preferred method of sheltering right now.

“In all of our areas we’ve been having really good conversations to ensure that, in conjunction with emergency management and local officials, we can provide that support to their communities,” said Nikki Salladay, Regional Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross of Kentucky.

“We are always here for folks,” said Salladay. “So, if there’s a disaster, if you have a home fire, if you’re, you know been affected by community flooding or anything of that nature, always give us a call.”

As always it’s best that you be prepared before a disaster strikes. Have a plan and a disaster kit. The kit should include items like important documents, medications, and flashlights. Since we are in a pandemic, the Red Cross recommends adding masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer.

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Chelsea Smith joins ABC 36 as a meteorologist and reporter. Chelsea grew up on the south side of Indianapolis. Her love for weather, especially Midwest weather, started with overcoming her childhood fear of thunderstorms. Chelsea graduated from Ball State University in 2017 where she earned her degree in meteorology. As part of a BSU class she chased storms all across the Great Plains and chased tornadoes in Eastern Colorado. She recently moved from Quincy, IL where she was the weekend meteorologist and reporter for WGEM for three years. She has forecasted and covered pretty much all types of Midwest Weather from thunderstorms and tornado outbreaks, blizzards and ice storms, to droughts and historic floods. When Chelsea is not forecasting, she is most likely spending time with her family and her yorkie! She is so excited for be forecasting for Central and Eastern Kentucky!