GEORGIA, December 16, 2015 — In an unusually busy year, the American Red Cross helped hundreds of thousands of people impacted by disasters in 2015, both in Georgia and around the globe. Red Cross disaster workers responded to 176 large U.S. disasters – more than each of the past three years.
The cost of just the four largest of these disasters is more than $30 million – this includes flooding in Texas and South Carolina, wildfires in California and Typhoon Soudelor, which battered the island of Saipan in August; (Saipan is part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific).
Red Cross disaster volunteers from Georgia rushed to support their neighbors in need after the devastating floods struck South Carolina in October. Volunteers from across the state deployed to the area and helped to provide emergency essentials such as food, shelter, health services and emotional support for hundreds of people who lost everything.
“This disaster affected many people’s lives in South Carolina,” said Georgia Disaster Officer, Eric Corliss, who helped lead the Red Cross relief operation in South Carolina. “I was especially proud that 30 Georgians were among the many Red Cross volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure that families had a safe place to stay, meals to eat, and help planning their next steps.”
The Red Cross depends on generous financial donations to provide services at home and abroad.
“Whether a disaster affects just one family or thousands of families, the Red Cross is committed to helping people get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” said Terri Badour Duckett, CEO of Georgia’s Red Cross. “We need your support now, more than ever, to continue providing help to families affected by disasters.”
Across the country, the Red Cross provided more than 34,000 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes because of disasters, served more than 1.1 million meals and snacks and distributed more than 800,000 relief items this year (as of December 8). Red Cross caseworkers provided recovery support to more than 19,000 households, and health and mental health workers provided more than 65,000 consultations after disasters.
As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross also worked alongside other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to support families in Nepal after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake there in April. Across the world, the Red Cross continues to address the needs of displaced families from Burundi, people facing food insecurity in Senegal, and is assisting with the ongoing migration crisis in Europe. Currently, More than 49,000 Red Cross volunteers are helping tens of thousands of migrants and refugees in 28 countries throughout Europe, providing help such as food, water, healthcare, hygiene kits, baby supplies, clothing and first aid kits. The American Red Cross deployed eight disaster specialists to support the effort, along with 10,000 cots to help families in Germany.
Home Fires Continued to be Largest U.S. Disaster Threat
Amidst all of these devastating events, home fires continued to be the largest disaster threat in the United States. During 2015, the Red Cross provided casework assistance to help 214,000 people whose lives were affected by a home fire. The Red Cross also helped prevent home fires and related injuries and deaths by working with thousands of local partners across the country to install 195,000 smoke alarms and teach 268,000 youth about fire safety.
Here in Georgia, the Red Cross continues to respond to more home fires and assist more families following home fires than any other Red Cross region in the country, with 2,428 fire responses and 3,745 fire-affected families helped this year (as of December 8). With the support of community partners from across the state, volunteers also installed 2,912 smoke alarms in at-risk areas as part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over a five-year period. Plans are underway for 2016 efforts in Georgia when volunteers will again go door-to-door in targeted communities to test and install smoke alarms and help residents create home fire escape plans.
HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today 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. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.