LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Five emergency response trucks and 10 volunteers from the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region are on a cross-country trek to aid and comfort areas hit hard by Hurricane Matthew in South Carolina.

They left Westwood on Oct. 10. As of Wednesday, Oct. 12, the response team was traveling through Texas, according to Red Cross officials. They are expected to arrive in South Carolina no later than Friday, Oct. 14.

The volunteers are bringing drinking water, ready-to-eat meals, cleaning supplies, comfort kits, insect repellant, shovels, rakes and more to areas stricken with power outages and record-breaking flooding, according to Maria F. Melo Bueno, the regional communications manager for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.

The Red Cross will work in collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate the response effort and ensure as many people receive the help they need as quickly as possible, Melo Bueno said.

The volunteers are planned to be deployed for 15 days, Melo Bueno said. This will be the first time, she said, that emergency vehicles from Red Cross chapters in the 48 continental states will all be sent to respond to a single emergency.

In addition, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region and the Pacoima Community Action Team Coalition will co-host a Home Fire Preparedness event on Saturday, Oct. 15, that includes the offer of free smoke alarm installations as part of National Fire Prevention week and the American Red Cross’ PrepareSoCal campaign.

The organization is asking for support from Southern California residents to help those in South Carolina, she said. Monetary donations support the Red Cross, which accepts donations at RedCross.org or (800) RED-CROSS. Texting the word “Matthew” to 90999 automatically sends $10 towards the relief effort.

Red Cross officials also noted that blood and platelet donations are especially needed at this time because Hurricane Matthew has forced the cancellation of blood drives in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Donations of blood or platelets can be arranged by visiting RedCrossBlood.org or by calling (800) 733-2767.

In addition, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region and the Pacoima Community Action Team Coalition will co-host a Home Fire Preparedness event on Saturday, Oct. 15, that includes the offer of free smoke alarm installations as part of National Fire Prevention week and the American Red Cross’ PrepareSoCal campaign. 

The event takes place at Ritchie Valens Park, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sandra Crouch, Pacoima born Grammy Award winning Gospel performer, New Christ Memorial Church, is scheduled to attend.

Red Cross Disaster Action Teams have already responded to seven residential fires in Pacoima this calendar year, Melo Bueno said, adding that Pacoima is also at risk for other disasters such as earthquakes, wildfire, and hazardous material incidents.

According to FEMA, home fires are America’s most common disaster.

Ritchie Valens Park is located at 10736 Laurel Canyon Blvd., in Pacoima. You can register to get your appointment for free smoke alarm installation and fire safety education at  bit.ly/2cLy8jP or call (818) 444-3091.

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