You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Red Cross Responds to 400 Local Disasters in 2013

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Dec. 30, 2013) — In a year that had deadly tornadoes, fierce wildfires and destructive floods throughout the country, the Central New York Region of the American Red Cross in 2013 responded to more than 400 local disasters, including floods in the Mohawk Valley and an ice storm in Northern New York that impacted thousands of residents.

“This year, the Red Cross continued to serve the people of Central New York through the dedicated work of its staff and volunteers,” said Rosie Taravella, Chief Executive Officer of the Central New York Region. “This was a busy year and we are so very thankful for everyone who supported our efforts to help those in need.”

The American Red Cross Central New York Region covers 16 counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, St. Lawrence, Tioga and Tompkins.

When the late June floods destroyed or damaged more than 1,100 homes and impacted more than 2,400 families in the city of Oneida, Oneida County, Herkimer County and Montgomery County, the Red Cross responded by providing 338 shelter stays, 13,671 hot meals, 19,717 snacks, 20,761 bulk items, 2,423 clean-up kits, 566 comfort kits, physical health services for 649 people, and mental health counseling for 1,212 people. About 400 Red Cross volunteers were deployed after the floods, and more than 300 of them were from the Central New York Region.

When last week’s ice storm left about 30,000 people in Northern New York without power, the Red Cross opened shelters in Norwood, Watertown and Harrisville with a total of 13 overnight stays; deployed 29 volunteers and eight staff members to transport supplies, work at the shelters, provide mental health counseling and perform other tasks; provided 230 blankets, 215 cots, 90 comfort kits and 96 hot meals to fire departments and other organizations for their shelters; and worked with its partners to provide food for the 73 residents who stayed at those non-Red Cross shelters.

And in addition to those responses, the Central New York Region provided lodging, food, clothing and other necessities to 1,113 people from 652 families who were impacted by other disasters such as house fires in 2013.

Behind the Numbers: Mobilizing Responses for Big Disasters

The Central New York Region’s responses to the Mohawk Valley floods and Northern New York ice storm were part of the 146 large disaster relief efforts led by the American Red Cross in 42 states and territories in 2013.

The Red Cross disaster responses across the country in 2013 included:

• 16,700 workers—many of them volunteers—providing care, comfort and support to those in need.

• 89,000 contacts by specially trained workers with disaster victims who needed mental health support or health services, which is more people than the amount of travelers who pass through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on an average day.

• 1.8 million meals and snacks, the equivalent of feeding the entire population of Philadelphia lunch in a day.

• 29,000 overnight stays in shelters for people forced from their homes by disasters, enough to fill the largest hotel in New York City for more than two weeks.

• 1 million relief items distributed, including more than 33,700 toothbrushes.

• $74 million to more than 60 nonprofit partners to help people and communities recover from Superstorm Sandy.


In April, flooding struck 10,000 homes in 10 counties in Illinois. More than a thousand Red Cross volunteers provided shelter and food to displaced families and delivered relief supplies to those returning to waterlogged homes. In September, almost a half-years’ worth of rain fell in just three days across several counties in and around Boulder, Colo. Red Crossers responded and served more than 204,000 meals and snacks, handed out more than 249,000 relief items and provided about 15,000 health and mental health contacts. The Red Cross also provided a total of 3,800 shelter stays for people forced from their homes by the flooding.

Tornados and Severe Storms

The largest and most deadly tornado outbreak in 2013 came in Oklahoma in May, when a series of tornadoes ripped through the state, and Red Cross workers were there to comfort the survivors, including the community of Moore, Okla., where two elementary schools were struck by a deadly EF-4 tornado. More than six months later, the Red Cross continues to help residents through long-term recovery centers and other community programs.

In addition, Mississippi was hit particularly hard by severe spring storms for the third consecutive year, including a tornado that severely damaged the Red Cross building in Hattiesburg in February. Again in April, the Red Cross was there, opening shelters, providing food and water, and helping survivors recover. In November, dozens of tornadoes cut a path of destruction through the Midwest, damaging more than 1,000 homes and leaving hundreds of thousands without power during a cold snap.


When wildfires threatened communities, the Red Cross offered evacuees a safe place to stay and supported first responders. In total, the Red Cross mobilized more than 2,000 workers to support 10 large wildfire responses in eight states during 2013, such as Colorado, Arizona, California and New Mexico.

Home Fires

It’s not just the high-profile disasters that left thousands of people in need this year. The Red Cross also responded to more than 52,000 home fires across America, helping 226,000 people get back on their feet. For those who have suffered a home fire, the event can be just as devastating as the high profile disasters that get a large amount of national attention. Regardless of the size of the event, the Red Cross responds in the same way—with shelter, food and emotional support.

International Disasters

In 2013, the American Red Cross assisted an estimated 1.3 million people affected by disasters in 24 countries outside of the U.S. These included storms and floods in the Philippines, Argentina, Bangladesh and Nigeria. Red Cross workers continue to respond to the ongoing humanitarian need created by the civil unrest in Syria, as well as needs caused by conflicts in other areas around the world. The Red Cross responded to food insecurity issues in Malawi and Zimbabwe and continued our earthquake recovery work in Haiti that has been ongoing since 2010. Additionally, the Red Cross continued its vital work in reconnecting families separated by conflict and disaster, reconnecting 886 families this year alone.

The work of the American Red Cross is made possible by donations. Donations can be made by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent by mail to your local Red Cross office.

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 visit us on Facebook at

About our Holiday Partners:

During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for the support of our corporate partners that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include: Circle K and its customers in the West and Florida divisions, Community Safety Foundation, funded by CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer, Mazda and its Dealers nationwide and University of Phoenix. Thanks to the generosity of these and other sponsors, the Red Cross is able to carry out its mission of helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies everyday here and around the world. Each holiday season the Red Cross gives everyone the chance to support our work by giving blood, signing a card for military heroes or buying a gift through our holiday catalog. To support the Red Cross this Holiday Season, visit