The New York Blood Center, which serves more than 20 million people in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and New Jersey, is the first blood bank to suffer from an urgent need of blood donors because it lost an estimated 2,000 donations during Hurricane Irene.

Several blood types are needed, including O-negative, which can be transfused into anyone, according to a New York Blood Center press release.

In total, more than two million utility customers were without power Sunday morning due to Irene, including more than 20,000 in New York City.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday, more than four million homes and businesses were without power Sunday morning as Hurricane Irene continued to roar up the East Coast and took aim at the New York City area and New England.

From the Carolinas to Maine, tens of millions of people were in the path of Irene, which howled ashore in North Carolina on Saturday, dumping torrential rain, falling trees and knocking out power.

Since Hurricane Irene forced blood drives to close over the weekend, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) is in urgent need of blood donors, they say.

We anticipated the potential effects of Irene, and delivered extra blood in advance to our 200 partner hospitals, said NYBC Vice President Rob Purvis. Our first priority remains getting them whatever they need for the care of trauma and cancer patients.

An estimated 2,000 donations were lost, leaving the normal three-to-five day inventory level to below the two-day minimum.

Due to concerns for the safety of its donors and staff, NYBC closed its donor centers and cancelled all blood drives on Sunday, August 28.

With Labor Day right around the corner, we're between a rock and a hard place, Purvis added. We need the help of our communities to replenish the blood supply.

The shelf life of platelets is only five days, and the shelf life of red blood cells is 42 days, and roughly one in seven people entering a hospital needs blood, according to the group.

NYBC suggests that donors should call 1-800-933-2566 or visit the center's website at www.nybloodcenter.org for more information.