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Red Cross Comforted Disaster Victims in 2013

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The Red Cross took care of us. I can’t thank them enough.

Thousands of people in this country and around the world faced the devastation and harsh circumstances of disasters in 2013 and the American Red Cross responded to help them. There were many Red Cross disaster stories this year, stories of response, help, comfort, service.

In 2013 the Red Cross responded to 146 large disasters in 42 states and territories as well as emergencies overseas. As many as 16,700 disaster workers responded across the United States, serving 1.8 million meals and snacks, distributing about one million relief items and providing 29,000 overnight stays in shelters and 89,000 health and mental health services.

OKLAHOMA TORNADOES One of the worst disasters of the year occurred in May when deadly tornadoes swept through Oklahoma. Entire communities were destroyed. People lost their homes and everything they owned. Trained Red Cross disaster workers responded immediately, offering shelter, food, relief supplies, health and mental health services and help with recovery.

One of those receiving help from the Red Cross was Kelly Vaughn of Carney, Oklahoma. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “The Red Cross took care of us. I can’t thank them enough.”

The Red Cross is still helping people in Oklahoma today as they recover from the deadly storms and will be there in the months and years ahead to help people get back on their feet. Trained Red Cross caseworkers are meeting with people who need extra help with unmet needs and creating recovery plans. More than 6,300 cases have been opened to provide support to more than 20,000 people.

The Red Cross is also operating long-term recovery offices in El Reno, Shawnee and Moore where people can go for help. Working with community and government partners, the Red Cross is working on resiliency projects for individuals and communities, school preparedness programs and projects to repair and rebuild community buildings and infrastructure.

Red Cross emergency relief and recovery efforts in Oklahoma include:

  • Deploying more than 2,000 disaster workers to assist people affected by the tornadoes
  • Serving nearly 460,000 meals and snacks
  • Distributing nearly 400,000 relief items
  • Providing as many as 24,000 health and mental health services
  • Providing 6,300 overnight stays in shelters
  • COLORADO FLOODS In September floodwaters forced thousands of people from their Colorado homes. Stranded residents had to be airlifted out of flooded neighborhoods and towns. While the rain was still falling, Red Cross disaster workers opened shelters, served meals, provided health and mental health services and distributed relief supplies. Many were volunteers who had just spent weeks helping people recover from the summer wildfires which burned across Colorado.

    The Red Cross was one of the first relief organizations allowed into Lyons after the flooding where we set up an emergency assistance center, providing nurses, counselors, caseworkers and relief supplies to hundreds of residents. Other Red Crossers hiked to hard-to-reach mountain communities to help. One group hiked up two miles of treacherous paths in Eldorado Canyon State Park to reach residents left isolated by a washed-out road.

    "I was lucky. My home is up away from the river here in Lyons,” said Mary Ann Milacek. “However, I have neighbors that lost everything. It was great to see the Red Cross here offering assistance.”

    The Red Cross will be working with community partners in Colorado for months to help people as they recover from the disastrous flooding. Client caseworkers are providing ongoing support to more than 1,300 families and individuals who need extra help with unmet emergency needs or getting back on their feet. Hundreds of people have received financial assistance from the Red Cross to help offset transportation or move-in costs so they can return home. Red Cross preparedness teams are evaluating how households, neighborhoods, businesses and organizations can get better prepared to be more resilient when the next disaster strikes.

    Red Cross emergency relief and recovery efforts in Colorado include:

  • Deploying more than 1,300 disaster workers to help people affected by the flooding
  • Serving more than 204,000 meals and snacks
  • Distributing nearly 250,000 relief items
  • Providing about 15,000 health and mental health services
  • Providing 3,800 overnight shelter stays and helping more than 1,600 people reconnect with their loved ones through the Red Cross Safe and Well program
  • TYPHOON HAIYAN This powerful storm swept across the central Philippines in November, leaving a massive trail of destruction behind. Haiyan affected millions of people across 36 Philippine provinces. Evacuation centers are housing thousands of people left homeless by the storm.

    Specialized Red Cross teams from all over the world have responded to the Philippines. Some are distributing food. Other teams are providing clean water. Still others are helping with medical support for the ill and injured. These include teams with expertise in logistics, disaster assessment, shelter, health, water and sanitation.

    The American Red Cross has contributed a total of $16 million thus far to the huge relief effort. The funds will be used to purchase and distribute relief items such as food, blankets, hygiene kits, and mosquito nets and to provide cash grants for use when markets begin functioning normally.

    In addition,13 American Red Cross specialists are in the Philippines providing support to the Philippine Red Cross, including a mapping specialist, a shelter specialist, two telecommunication specialist, two assessment specialists, two specialist focusing on providing cash grants and a five-person team to assist the global Red Cross Emergency Response Team in distributing relief supplies,

    THANK YOU The American Red Cross thanks everyone who supported disaster relief operations this year. Every year the victims of nearly 70,000 disasters big and small look to the Red Cross for immediate help.

    The Red Cross also provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families – in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world; collects and distributes about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and trains more than 6.5 million people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills every year.

    If you would like to support the Red Cross mission, you can still make a donation to the 2013 American Red Cross Holiday Campaign and help those in need.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.