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2016: Red Cross Helps Hundreds of Thousands as 180 Large Disasters Hit the U.S. this Year

In a year that set new records for severe and devastating weather, the American Red Cross provided more assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by these disasters all across the United States than in the past two years combined.

In 2016, 32,000 Red Cross volunteers responded to 180 significant disasters in 45 states and two U.S. territories including wildfires, storms, flooding, Hurricane Matthew and other emergencies.

“People impacted by disaster are facing what can be their darkest days. This year a seemingly endless chain of disasters affected hundreds of thousands of people and the Red Cross was there, helping,” said American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region CEO Renée Cardwell Hughes. “But we need your support now to continue providing help to families affected by disasters.” The Red Cross depends on generous financial donations to provide services.

As of this month, the Red Cross provided the following help to people impacted by disasters across the country this year:

  • Opened nearly 800 emergency shelters, providing 206,000 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes
  • Served more than 4.1 million meals and snacks
  • Distributed more than 2.1 million relief items

Amidst all of these devastating events, home fires continued to be the largest disaster threat in the United States. During 2016, Red Cross of Eastern PA volunteers provided assistance to help more than 1,800 families recover after a home fire left them with nowhere else to turn. In total 5,000 people were given Red Cross assistance in Eastern Pennsylvania after experiencing a disaster.

The Red Cross and local partners are also working to help prevent home fires, deaths and injuries here in Eastern Pennsylvania. In 2016 the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign installed more than 9,100 smoke alarms and more than 9,000 youth have been taught about fire safety and other emergencies through The Pillowcase Project.

Disasters Devastated Communities across U.S. in 2016 

In just the first three months of 2016, the country faced tornadoes in Texas, flooding in Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, along with the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The Red Cross was there for each one, disaster workers providing shelter, food and comfort to people impacted. Dozens of Red Cross volunteers from Eastern Pennsylvania were involved in the recovery process in these communities.

In mid-April, nearly two feet of rain brought devastating flooding to the greater Houston metro area, and again the Red Cross provided shelter, meals and a shoulder to lean on as residents were forced from their homes. Around the May’s Memorial Day, devastating flooding again hit Texas, some regions receiving 19 inches of rain. Red Cross disaster workers from Eastern PA were mobilized once again to help.

June saw fast-moving wildfires in California and historic flooding in West Virginia which destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. Red Cross volunteers from our area deployed to lend a hand.

Historic flooding in Louisiana in August devastated tens of thousands of lives. At the peak of the floods, more than 10,000 people were staying in more than 50 shelters. Red Cross disaster workers from all across the country, including Eastern Pennsylvania, came to the state to help. 

In September, significant flooding occurred in Iowa, including Cedar Rapids, and once again people were forced to evacuate. Red Cross workers opened shelters and provided meals and relief supplies.

In October, Hurricane Matthew slammed into Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, damaging tens of thousands of homes and causing devastating flooding. And in late November, raging wildfires forced thousands of people in and around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, from their homes. Again, Red Cross disaster workers from our area helped opened shelters and provided meals and comfort.


Red Cross Work Continues in other Areas 

In addition to responding to disasters here at home and across the country, the work of the American Red Cross continued in other areas as well. More than 80,000 blood donations were collected in Eastern Pennsylvania during 2016. In addition more than 81,000 people received lifesaving training in First Aid, CPR and AED.

The Red Cross continues to work with our nation’s military, veterans and their families. More than 2,600 services were provided to members of the Armed Forces both past and present.

Much of the work of the American Red Cross in our area is done by volunteers. 3,723 volunteers help make up the Red Cross workforce in Eastern Pennsylvania. 


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, 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.


About our Corporate Holiday Supporters

During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for those corporate donors that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include Circle K West Coast and Florida Divisions and Mazda and its Dealers.  Thanks to the generosity of these and other supporters, the Red Cross is able to bring help and hope to people across the country. To learn more about our corporate holiday supporters, visit


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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.