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FEMA, Red Cross to Share Mass Care Responsibility for U.S. Emergencies

The American Red Cross will co-lead mass care response during emergencies in this country with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under a new agreement signed today.

This agreement means that the Red Cross and FEMA will work even more closely together to help government agencies and community organizations plan, coordinate and provide a breadth of mass care services for people affected by disasters. Mass care services include opening shelters, feeding those affected, distributing emergency supplies and reuniting families.

The new memorandum of agreement (MOA) will combine the strength of FEMA as a federal agency and the decades of Red Cross experience in providing mass care to people in need.

“FEMA is only part of our nation’s emergency management team,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “By partnering with the American Red Cross – another key member of this team –we will be able to coordinate mass care services more effectively and efficiently. Today’s signing was an important step forward not just for FEMA and the Red Cross, but for the many Americans who may need shelter, food, first aid and other types of mass care if a disaster strikes.”

“Disasters can create a wide range of emergency needs that are more than any single organization or government agency can meet, so coordination and collaboration are essential” said Gail J. McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross, a volunteer organization, has decades of experience providing food, shelter, supplies and family reunification services, and we’re pleased to sign this agreement with FEMA to help disaster planning efforts across the United States.”

As co-lead with FEMA for mass care, the Red Cross will serve as a national leader tasked with supporting state governments and other non-profit organizations to build stronger disaster response plans and capabilities in mass care. At the same time, the Red Cross will continue its work to provide shelter, food, emotional support, first aid services, cleanup supplies and comfort items to people in need.

These mass care responsibilities are part of the National Response Framework, a federal guide as to how the country will respond to anything from local emergencies to large-scale terrorist attacks and catastrophic natural disasters.

The new MOA does not call for any specific financial support for the Red Cross, which will continue to rely on the generosity of financial donations to support the cost of responding to disasters.

The Red Cross and FEMA will work jointly to determine the critical needs of agencies and organizations that respond to disasters, and conduct joint training and practice exercises. Both will provide technical assistance on mass care to states and non-governmental organizations before, during and after a disaster.

FEMA will continue to serve as lead, and Red Cross as a support agency for any emergency assistance, housing and human services responsibilities.