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Home fires Top List of Disaster Responses for Iowa Red Cross

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"Every day local volunteers are helping people to recover and get better prepared.”

This year the Iowa Red Cross helped more people affected by home fires than all other disasters combined. Local volunteers responded at all hours of the day with food, blankets and comfort to help more than 2,100 people with nowhere else to turn after home fires from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, 2014. 

The Red Cross also provided financial support to 611 households after home fires to help replace lost belongings and begin the long road to recovery. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in the community every eight minutes and the vast majority of these are home fires. 

“While tornadoes, floods and hurricanes tend to dominate the headlines, people often underestimate the frequency and devastation caused by home fires, and that’s where the Red Cross comes in,” said Leslie Schaffer, Regional Executive for the Iowa Region. “Our work doesn’t end after the smoke clears, every day local volunteers are helping people to recover and get better prepared.”   

Curbing Deaths and Injuries from Home Fires

Because of the high number of home fires in this country, the Red Cross launched a campaign this year to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. The organization is asking every household in America to take two simple steps: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home. 

Since the campaign launched in October, the Red Cross—in partnership with fire departments and community groups nationwide—has already reached more than 29,000 people by installing 17,000 smoke alarms. These efforts have already saved five lives nationwide. The program is modeled after the smoke alarm installation program developed by the Iowa Red Cross two years ago. Since 2012, we’ve reached more than 7,000 homes and have installed more 3,305 smoke alarms in Centerville, Lake City, Ottumwa, Des Moines, Arlington and Nevada. 

Other Notable Disaster Responses

In addition to home fires, Red Cross volunteers in Iowa responded to numerous other disasters this year, including: 

  • May 2014-Red Cross volunteers provided food, water, coffee, hot chocolate and clean-up supplies to those affected by tornadoes near Lake Panorama
  • June 2014-Red Cross volunteers assisted families in northwest Iowa and Union County, SD affected by flooding, including supporting community efforts to shelter and feed families. Shelters were opened in the communities of Rock Rapids, Cherokee, and Rock Valley.
  • June 2014-Red Cross volunteers assisted families affected by flooding in Cedar Rapids and strong storms in Jones, Tama and Adair counties.  

Our work is made possible by the generosity of the American public. You can help people affected by disasters big and small by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables us to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. You can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.