WASHINGTON - Grasping just how significant Hurricane Florence is can be a challenge, especially for those who have never felt triple-digit winds or double-digit rainfall.
But make no mistake, the storm is massive. With a diameter of about 400 miles, Florence is roughly the equivalent of the length of the National Mall, from the steps of the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial - multiplied by 200.
The numbers only grow more daunting from there. Wind speeds have topped 100 miles per hour at times, roughly double the speed of a Metro train. Meanwhile, some areas are forecasted to get up to 40 inches of rain, and storm surges are projected to be as high as 13 feet.
That is in addition to one local utility company estimating that up to three million homes and businesses will lose power, while airlines have already grounded thousands of flights.
It makes things especially challenging for aid organizations, like the American Red Cross. The National Capital Region chapter has already sent 18 volunteers down south. Spokesperson Paul Carden said another 56 are ready to respond as needed.
"We're glad that we're able to free up resources to go and help where the help is needed," he said.
The American Red Cross is urging people to donate both blood, and if possible, money, to help those impacted recover from this massive storm.
Here's how you can help:
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The Red Cross projects that more than 1,445 blood and platelet donations will be cancelled as Hurricane Florence moves across the Southeast. Hurricane Florence has already forced the cancellation of blood drives and additional cancellations are expected over the coming days with fewer blood donors available to give at drives in and around affected areas due to poor weather conditions.
The Red Cross encourages eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by the storm to give blood or platelets to help ensure a sufficient blood supply. Platelet and type O positive blood donations are critically needed right now.
The Red Cross must collect 13,000 blood donations each day, to ensure patient needs are met at approximately 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Ahead of the storm, the Red Cross sent additional blood products to areas of the Southeast likely to be impacted by the storm, including Puerto Rico, and is prepared to send more to ensure patient needs continue to be met.
HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Florence by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word FLORENCE to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate their donation to Hurricane Florence relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on redcross.org or on 1-800-RED CROSS.
The best way to ensure your donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. We also recommend completing and mailing the donation form on redcross.org with your check.