Over the past month, the American Red Cross has been busy delivering shelter, food and relief supplies to those who have been affected by Tropical Storm Debby in Florida, multiple wildfires across the West, and power outages and extreme heat in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. With these traumatic and sometimes life-changing events, emotional support is a critical component of the Red Cross response.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT The Red Cross has provided more than 13,000 mental health and health services consultations since the beginning of June in response to these disasters that suddenly uprooted lives across the country. However what this number fails to quantify are the embraces exchanged, care that is given and worries that are eased for these families and individuals during hardship.
“Disasters like these leave people feeling overwhelmed, stressed and I am here to offer a hug and support to let them know someone cares,” said Red Cross volunteer, Carol Gross who provides emotional support during disasters.
As a family enters a Red Cross shelter, they are greeted by a smiling volunteer who offers guidance and help. A meal is delivered with a hug. And a Red Cross disaster worker stops by again just to ask, “How are you doing today?” This emotional support can help a family get back on their feet as much as the food and supplies they take home with them. Because of the Red Cross, they know they are not alone.
David Frederick and his family spent eleven days at the Cheyenne Mountain High School shelter in Colorado after they were evacuated because of the Waldo Canyon wildfire. In addition to providing a safe place to stay, cots and meals, the Red Cross also works with residents at shelters to help them through what, for many, has been the most traumatic event in their lives
“I can’t thank the Red Cross enough for helping us out,” said Frederick. “There have been a lot of Red Cross volunteers who kept our spirits up. We couldn’t have done it without you!”
ONGOING RESPONSE Since the beginning of June, the Red Cross has deployed more than 3,100 disaster workers to 12 states to help people in need. Dozens of shelters were opened, providing thousands of overnight stays. The Red Cross served more than 319,000 meals and snacks and distributed nearly 197,000 relief items.
Last night, the shelter count finally fell below one hundred people. Going forward, the Red Cross will adjust services to help residents as they return home and begin to clean up and recover. While the current disaster response is winding down, the work of the Red Cross is not done yet since dry conditions mean it could be a long wildfire season, and already there has been an early start to the Atlantic hurricane season.
The Red Cross estimates that it will spend as much as $9 million responding to the disasters which have occurred since early June. This estimate includes wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Montana and Idaho; flooding in Florida from Tropical Storm Debby; and the June 29 storms and power outage affecting Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
HOW TO HELP Every year, the Red Cross spends an average of more than $360 million preparing and responding to disasters across the country and around the world. This includes the cost of maintaining the strong network of staff and volunteers, supplies, warehouses, response vehicles and technical resources needed to respond to nearly 70,000 disasters each year.
We need your financial donation to help people affected by these disasters, you can make a donation today to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 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 redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.