Red Cross

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Almost a year after Grand Rapids was slammed by major flooding, the Red Cross is rallying West Michigan aid groups in case this spring’s snowmelt leads to another big flood.  

Chip Kragt, of the Red Cross in Michigan, says the organization is getting updates from the National Weather Service.    

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user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

Update 3:27 p.m.

The AP is now reporting that more Michigan homes and businesses --around 400,000-- lost power this week:

DTE Energy Co. says about 210,000 of its customers were without power Thursday after a new round of damaging thunderstorms made its way across the state, knocking down trees and power lines. Since Tuesday, DTE says about 300,000 of its customers have been affected.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Workers at the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan chapter are on the picket line, after a strike deadline passed without a deal.

Red Cross spokeswoman Monica Stoneking says the strike will drastically reduce blood collection efforts in 65 Michigan counties:

"In the Great Lakes region alone, we need to collect about 700 units of blood every day to meet the hospital needs and the needs of the patients we serve, and not being able to collect those blood products really puts our blood supply in jeopardy," said Stoneking.

Stoneking hopes negotiations will resolve the standoff soon.

"We're preparing for at least ten days," said Stoneking. "We're calling on other regions that aren’t affected by the union to increase our blood collection so that our national blood supply is healthy."

The strike affects about 280 nurses and staff who handle blood. They’ve been working without a contract since 2008.

Union officials say the two sides are far apart on many issues.

Talks are scheduled to resume September 17.

U.S. Army / Flickr

We spoke with Bridget Tuohey of the Red Cross of Southeast Michigan about today's urgent nationwide appeal for blood donations, after tornados and other disasters impacted the agency's ability to collect blood this summer.

Tuohey says Michigan has been critically short of blood for three weeks now. 

Normally, the state can turn to other areas of the country to get blood when there's not enough donation here.  That's not the case now, says Tuohey, and the Red Cross can no longer completely fill standing orders for blood from state hospitals.  Some hospitals are postponing elective surgeries as a result.

The Red Cross needs all blood types, but especially A-negative, B-negative and O-negative.   O-negative is called the universal blood type because it can be given to anyone in an emergency.

People who can donate can walk in to a clinic.  But Tuohey says it's best to make an appointment ahead of time by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767.)

User: Ozarks Red Cross / Flickr

The Red Cross of Washtenaw County is prepared to send volunteers to Joplin, Mo. where a tornado killed at least 117 people. The Red Cross chapter in Ann Arbor is already deploying one of its 150 volunteers to the disaster area.

Ashley Cieslinski is the Emergency Services Director of Washtenaw County’s Red Cross. She says Red Cross chapters across Michigan are prepared to help with relief efforts.