Disaster Relief

  • Volunteer with woman and child

Each year, the American Red Cross immediately responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters in the U.S. – including approximately 1,000 in Central Pennsylvania – ranging from fires to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents and explosions.

Red Cross disaster relief focuses on meeting people's immediate emergency needs caused by disaster. When disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and health and emotional health service to address basic human needs and assist individuals and families in resuming their normal daily activities independently.

The Red Cross also feeds emergency workers like fire fighters and police, handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, provides blood and blood products to disaster victims, and helps them access other available resources.

People count on the Red Cross to help them in their darkest hour. In turn, the support of donors makes it possible for the Red Cross to fulfill its humanitarian mission. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations who invest in the Red Cross.

To reach our disaster relief team 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, contact your local Red Cross, (866) 311-3832.

Disaster Relief services are provided in the following areas

Mass Care

The Red Cross provides for the immediate emergency needs of disaster victims and/or emergency workers in large disaster-affected areas. This includes sheltering, feeding and/or direct distribution of relief supplies.

Shelters may be opened in anticipation of a disaster, during an evacuation or after a disaster occurs. Shelters are intended as a safe haven from impending disaster and/or short-term emergency housing until disaster victims can return to their homes or locate alternate housing after a disaster.

Mass feeding provides regular meals in shelters and other appropriate food and snacks for victims and workers in the affected areas.

Disaster relief items, such as clean-up kits, comfort kits, food, water, ice, fuels and other items related to disaster relief and recovery may be distributed by Red Cross staff and volunteers.

Family Services

Red Cross Family Service caseworkers provide disaster assistance to help families purchase new clothing, eyeglasses, prescriptions, groceries, household goods or other items that were lost in the disaster. No repayment or reimbursement for any assistance provided is ever sought or accepted from disaster victims.

We also provide referrals to other agencies that may be able to assist disaster victims, including community-based and government agencies. The local Red Cross works with a number of community-based and government agencies to identify resources available to help those who need assistance with housing and other post-disaster needs.

Disaster Mental Health Services

The Region has a corps of trained, licensed mental health workers who provide emergency and preventative mental health services to disaster victims and workers. We supplement the community’s existing mental health care delivery systems by providing brief counseling to disaster victims in Red Cross service delivery facilities or other settings.

Disaster Health Services

The Region has a corps of trained nurses, paraprofessionals and other individuals with appropriate first aid training and experience who provide emergency and preventative health services to disaster victims and workers. The primary responsibility of the Red Cross disaster health service workers is to supplement the community’s existing health care delivery systems.

Family Safe and Well Inquiries

Disasters often make it difficult to stay in touch with loved ones. The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a central location for people in disaster areas in the United States to register their current status, and for their loved ones to access that information. It helps provide displaced families with relief and comfort during a stressful time.