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2015 Concludes with Spike in Disasters

Young man stands in the wreckage of a house destroyed by a tornado
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The American Red Cross has launched a massive relief response across multiple states in the wake of deadly storms that have been hammering communities across most of the country since before the Christmas holiday.

Closer to home, Red Cross workers have been unusually busy responding to smaller disasters: 44 in the month of December. In the past week, local Red Cross volunteers have responded to an average of two home fires a day despite the holidays.

The Red Cross responds to an average of about a disaster a day in Colorado and Wyoming, and while home fires typically experience an uptick in winter months, this year’s rate is higher than normal for December.

“Red Cross disaster workers have been helping people affected by fires, floods and storms since before Christmas and will continue to help them as long as needed,” said Gino Greco, CEO of the Red Cross Colorado & Wyoming Region. “We ask everyone to remember these families who have lost everything and had their holiday celebrations tragically interrupted by giving to Red Cross Disaster Relief. We depend on generous financial donations to provide comfort and hope to people in need.”

Several days of tornadoes, flooding and winter storms left behind damaged homes, downed power lines and closed highways. Red Cross and community shelters are open in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The Red Cross is also supporting families in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi due to severe weather and flooding. 

More than 1,100 homes have been damaged by storms across the affected areas and the number could increase. Hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster workers left their loved ones and homes over the holiday and opened shelters for those affected, providing meals, distributing comfort kits and clean-up supplies and meeting with those affected to help them plan their next steps.

BUSY YEAR FOR RED CROSS DISATER RESPONSE

The slew of disasters large and small comes on the heel of a busy year for the Red Cross. In 2015 the American Red Cross has helped hundreds of thousands of people impacted by disasters, including more than 176 large U.S. disasters.  

 As of Dec. 8 – prior to recent devastating storms – in 2015 the Red Cross had already:

·         Provided more than 34,000 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes because of disasters

·         Served more than 1.1 million meals and snacks

·         Distributed more than 800,000 relief items

·         Provided more than 65,000 health and mental health consultations after disasters.

 

 Here in the Colorado & Wyoming Region, the Red Cross launched two separate relief operations in Wyoming after floods struck in Lusk and wildfires struck near Casper. Local volunteers also responded to more than 375 smaller disasters in 2015, such as localized floods, apartment fires and home fires.

PLEASE HELP NOW

The Red Cross will be helping people affected by recent storms for weeks and months to come, while at the same time responding to other emergencies, including helping people whose homes are destroyed by fires. The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States – the vast majority of which are home fires.

 People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 “Whether a disaster affects just one family or thousands of families, the Red Cross is committed to helping people get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” Greco said. “But we need your support now to continue providing help to families affected by disasters.” The Red Cross depends on generous financial donations to provide services.