Disaster Services

  • Red Cross disaster responder handing a bottle of water to a little boy

A disaster can strike without warning. It may force you or your family to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. The Red Cross trains volunteers in your community to help in a time of need. We provide services for many uncontrollable disasters such as: single family fires, natural disasters (tornadoes, floods, etc.), and toxic chemical spills.

When disaster, large or small, strikes, the Red Cross responds immediately. It works in cooperation with the government and other partner organizations to provide assistance.

A survey conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape, more than twice the amount they actually have. Nearly 18 percent erroneously believe they have ten minutes or more to get out. Visit redcross.org to learn more about our national Fire Preparedness Campaign. For a look at our local response, click on the Local Programs tab to the left.

How can you prepare yourself and your family before a disaster occurs?

No community or family is immune to disaster. Learn as much as you can about potential disasters in your community, so you can avoid them or reduce their effects. The more you know, the better you'll be able to prepare for a disaster and, if disaster strikes, the better you'll be able to cope.

To learn more about how to prepare your family for a potential disaster, visit redcross.org/prepare.

What does the Red Cross actually do in disasters?

The most well-known disaster relief activities are sheltering, feeding, and giving first aid to those seeking refuge from a hurricane or flood or in the wake of a tornado, earthquake, or hazardous materials incident.

All assistance is given on a standardized basis, depending on the verified disaster-caused needs of the individual or family. This assistance is geared toward meeting immediate emergency needs. It is also where the majority of your financial contributions go.

The Red Cross enables victims of disaster to resume living independently by providing direct financial assistance for them to replace basic human needs–from food, and clothing to emergency home repairs, transportation, household items, and medicines. The Red Cross also helps those needing long-term recovery assistance when other resources are not available or are inadequate.

Red Cross disaster relief work also includes: feeding emergency workers, referring those affected by disaster to other available resources, handling inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, and providing blood and blood products to disaster victims.

Who provides the disaster services of the American Red Cross?

Trained Red Cross volunteers and staff continuously prepare to be ready to respond when a disaster threatens or strikes. Red Cross workers come from all walks of life and all segments of the community. The only thing they have in common is the willingness to serve and the desire to help those in need.

Trained Red Cross disaster workers might:

  • Be part of a team that determines the level of damage to homes in a disaster area.
  • Work in a shelter or on a mobile feeding van providing hot meals to a disaster-stricken community.
  • Move urgently needed vehicles and supplies across the country.
  • Interview individuals and families to determine how they were affected by the disaster and how the Red Cross can best meet their needs.
  • Work with Disaster Health Services to give first aid and other health assistance to disaster victims.
  • Help provide the media with the most current information on the disaster and how the Red Cross is responding.
  • Provide computer, communications, or accounting support.
  • Do community presentations to help people prepare for disaster.

How can you help after a disaster?

When a disaster strikes a family, a community, or a country, people want to help. Obviously, everyone does not have the time or ability to respond directly to the scene and give assistance. But almost everyone wants to do something to help those in need.

One way to help is to volunteer today with the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. As a trained disaster volunteer, you may be called on to help others when they need you most. To start your application, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Another very important way to help is to contribute financially to the Red Cross. Your financial contribution, rather than donations of often-unneeded items, ensures that what is actually needed can be purchased in disaster-affected communities. It also enables disaster victims to pay for what they need to meet their emergency needs.

The Disaster Relief Fund assures that the Red Cross can provide assistance to individuals and families regardless of the type of disaster or where it occurs.