ATLANTA, Wednesday, December 13, 2017 – 2017 was a year of record-breaking disasters and the American Red Cross mobilized quickly to help people in need, providing more food, relief supplies, and shelter stays than all of the last four years combined.
In just 45 days, the Red Cross responded to six of the year’s largest and most complex disasters. This included back-to-back hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate — the deadliest week of wildfires in California history, and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas.
Here in September, Hurricane Irma blew into Georgia causing coastal flooding and fallen trees that knocked out power and heavily damaged or destroyed nearly 500 homes. As part of a massive national relief operation across six states, Puerto Rico and the USVI, Georgia’s Red Cross:
- Provided 20,392 overnight stays to 6,627 people in 45 evacuation centers in Georgia.
- Served 90,688 meals and 226,422 snacks.
- Distributed 1,620 cleanup kits, 8418 comfort kits, and 32,048 bulk items
- Made 5,428 Health and Mental Health contacts
- Financially assisted 506 families
- Mobilized 876 trained Red Cross disaster workers from across the country, more than half of them from Georgia.
Hurricane relief efforts continue in Metro Atlanta for medical and self-evacuees from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. A team of volunteers has assisted more than 400 people to date with emergency needs and referrals.
As 2017 ends, the Red Cross is also now responding to devastating and quick-moving wildfires across much of Southern California, opening shelters and providing food, comfort, and a safe place for people forced from their homes. Currently, five volunteers from Georgia are helping with relief efforts.
242 LARGE DISASTER RESPONSES IN 2017 In all, the Red Cross mobilized more than 56,000 disaster workers — 92 percent volunteers — to provide help to people affected by 242 significant disasters in 45 states and three territories. This aid included:
· Opening 1,100 emergency shelters to provide 658,000 overnight stays
· Serving 13.6 million meals and snacks
· Distributing 7 million relief items
· Providing 267,000 health and mental health consultations
· Supporting 624,000 households with recovery assistance
Altogether, Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs) traveled 2.5 million miles to deliver food, relief supplies, and support to communities affected by disasters during 2017. That’s the equivalent of driving around the earth 103 times. Fifteen of these ERVs began their travels here in January following the devastating tornado outbreak in South and Southwest Georgia that caused deaths, injuries and widespread damage.
“Here and across the country, people were faced with these massive disasters and the Red Cross was there, making sure folks had a safe place to stay, food to eat and a shoulder to lean on,” said Terri Badour, CEO of Georgia’s Red Cross. “At the same time, we were also responding to nonstop home and apartment fires. Whether a large or small emergency, Red Cross disaster workers mobilized to help.”
HOME FIRES THE MOST FREQUENT DISASTER The most frequent type of disaster the Red Cross responded to in 2017 was a fire in someone’s home. The Red Cross responded to nearly 50,000 home fires and provided casework assistance to help 76,000 families recover. In fact, Georgia’s Red Cross typically responds to more home and apartment fires each year than any other Red Cross region in the country -- nearly 2,700 fire incidents and more than 3,700 Georgia families helped this year to date.
Through its Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross and thousands of local partners are working to help prevent home fires and save lives by installing smoke alarms, helping families create home fire plans and offering youth education programs. Since the Campaign launched in 2014, 303 lives have been saved – including 6 members from the Bell family in LaGrange, Georgia, who heard the alarm beep and escaped the fire that destroyed their home in March. More than 1 million smoke alarms have been installed, and 940,000 youth have been taught about the importance of fire safety to date.
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross aided millions of people impacted by disasters around the globe in 2017. Red Cross volunteers also visited more than 2 million households to encourage families to vaccinate their children against measles in countries like Malawi and Indonesia and helped to save lives by mapping vulnerable communities —using only a computer and internet connection.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, wildfires and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Please consider making a donation today. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to its programs and services, which includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.
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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.