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Record Number of $1 Billion Disasters Hit the US in 2011


Earthquakes shaking the Washington Monument, wildfires burning through Texas and tropical storms hammering much of the East Coast have continued what seems to be a relentless series of disasters in 2011.

A report from the National Climatic Data Center shows that 2011 has already seen more disasters with more than $1 billion in damages than any year on record.

President Obama declared 89 major disasters during the first 10 months of this year, more than all the declarations he made in all of 2010. In fact, in the first three years of his presidency Obama has declared 229 disasters, more than almost any other president has signed in their full four-year terms.

Even as the number and impact of disasters increases, the American Red Cross commitment to providing relief never wavers.

So far in 2011, the Red Cross has responded to 119 large-scale disasters by feeding, sheltering and providing emotional support to those affected. In response to Hurricane Irene alone, the Red Cross provided shelter for more than 25,000 people up and down the East Coast.

As the need for disaster relief and support increases, so do the costs for organizations that respond.

“We honor our mission to respond immediately every day to those affected by disaster, whether we have raised funds for the event or not,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services at the Red Cross. “We are grateful to our partners who step up in advance of these disasters to help make sure we have the funds we need to respond.”

And corporate America has stepped up. As the cost of disasters increases, so have their contributions. Following Hurricane Irene, the Walmart Foundation contributed $250,000, bringing its total donations to American Red Cross disaster relief to more than $1 million in just six months.

“We’ve had an extremely active disaster year already, and winter storms are just around the corner,” said Shimanski. “With the Walmart Foundation and other partners at our side, we will continue to be there for our friends and neighbors when they need us the most.”