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2017 in Review: Red Cross Delivers More Food, Relief Items and Shelter Stays than Last 4 Years Combined

Many people lost everything and the Red Cross was there to help people get back on their feet

HOUSTON, TX, (December 19, 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. 
As 2017 comes to a close, 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. 
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 
People were faced with 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. Learn more about our 2017 disaster work in this video
Altogether, Red Cross emergency response vehicles 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
Here in the Texas Gulf Coast region, the Red Cross launched relief operations to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey. This aid included: 
• Opening nearly 150 emergency shelters to provide a little over 140,000 overnight stays 
• Serving nearly 4 million meals and snacks 
• Distributing nearly 1.7 million relief items 
• Providing nearly 100,000 health and mental health consultations 
“The region was devastated by this disaster and Red Cross workers helped around the clock, making sure people had shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on”, said Marty Mckellips, Regional Executive, American Red Cross. “Many people lost everything and the Red Cross was there to help people get back on their feet.” 
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. 
“While these large disasters were making headlines, we were also responding to smaller things like home fires. Whether a large or small emergency, Red Cross disaster workers mobilized to help.” said Mckellips. 
Here in the Texas Gulf Coast region, the Red Cross responded to 970 home fires, provided preparedness education through The Pillowcase Project to 1,338 students and installed 4,284 smoke alarms with the help of community partners. 
During the Hurricane Harvey response, our Disaster Action Teams continued to respond to small scale disasters. Throughout the region, Disaster Action Teams responded to 208 home fires during the Harvey response. It was not unusual to have volunteers spend a long day helping those impacted by Hurricane Harvey turn around and help those suffering from a home fire. 
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. During 2017, more than 382,000 free smoke alarms were installed and 401,000 people were reached through home visits. Since the Campaign launched in 2014, 303 lives have been saved, more than 1 million smoke alarms have been installed, and 940,000 youth have been taught about the importance of fire safety. 
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. This included helping nearly 9,400 families search for loved ones who were separated during international conflict or disasters, and sending humanitarian aid to 26 countries to help in the aftermath of disasters. The organization also deployed American responders to disaster zones around the world 27 times this year—including to Nigeria, Mexico, and Bangladesh. 
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, 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, a United Way agency, 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.