WCYB-Food City Hurricane donation reaches $354,000, preparation for Irma begins now

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

While the nation is still dealing with Harvey's aftermath, it's also now preparing for Hurricane Irma. Local Red Cross and Salvation Army leaders are working to get ahead of that next storm. WCYB weather experts say Irma could be even stronger than Harvey.

"This is a major category five storm and it is pushing towards San Juan, Puerto Rico and then eventually going to get very close to Florida or move over Florida, so a lot of attention now is turning to the United States," says WCYB meteorologist David Boyd.

As the nation picks up the pieces of Houston in Harvey's aftermath, another hurricane now threatens the east coast; this one, potentially even stronger.

"Here in Virginia we've stopped sending volunteers to Texas in the event that the hurricane comes all the way up to here, we want to have our volunteers here in the event that we need them," says executive director of the Mountain Empire Red Cross Bill Grennell.

The Red Cross is also deploying blood supply products to Florida and stocking warehouses with supplies ready for local use, or ready to ship to impacted areas. They're also connecting with partner organizations like The Salvation Army.

"We try to prepare our own units, make sure our volunteers are ready, make sure our feeding canteen is prepped and fully stocked and just ready to go. The way we are preparing is just being ready for that call, should that call come," says Captain Michael Cox of the Salvation Army of Johnson City.

Both organizations say they are looking for new donations.

"The best way to help out is always monetary...whether it be that they need baby supplies, the need non-perishable food, whether they need higene kits, cleanup kits, stuff like that, we can put a main focus to it," Cox says.

"When a donation is made here in Bristol, Virginia, we can deposit that and have that transferred immediately to the relief fund for whatever disaster we're currently working on," Grennell says. The Salvation Army and Red Cross are also accepting donations of clothing and non-perishable food items.