Beginning of 2014 Dominated by Home Fires and Winter Storms

Red Cross volunteer distributes food

Home fires and winter storms have dominated the thoughts and actions of the Palmetto SC Region’s  disaster responders since the beginning of the year. It’s been a busy first couple of months of 2014 for the Red Cross as the region has dealt with extreme cold temperatures and fires.

In January, the Palmetto SC Region helped 612 individuals affected by 185 home fires. The region, which consists of 35 out of 46 counties in South Carolina, saw an increase of 50 fires over the same period in 2013, when the regional response was to 135 fires and assisted 443 people. February did not slow down as the region responded to more than 120 fires that month too.

Red Cross assists the family with basic emergency disaster needs such as temporary shelter, financial assistance for meals and clothes, acquiring replacement medications, and access to health services and mental health counseling. But we don't stop there. We also help with their long term needs through collaboration with our community partners.

In this peak season of home fires, Red Cross needs the help of its volunteers and financial supporters. It takes an average $1,250 for Red Cross to support a family of four impacted by fire. Anyone interested in supporting the Palmetto SC Region for fire victims is encouraged to contact one of our seven Red Cross chapters spanning 35-counties of South Carolina.

The Red Cross was also busy opening shelters in five counties during the record cold snap called the Polar Vortex in January that sent temperatures plummeting. Then in February a winter storm packed a punch of frozen rain, snow, sleet and especially ice. Afterward more than 346,000 customers were without power across the region and rural areas were hit especially hard. The Red Cross responded by mobilizing more than 100 volunteers and opening 26 shelters (at the peak) with more than 800 overnight stays. Working with our partners we also served more than 26,000 meals and snacks.

With the snow and ice shutting down roads, businesses and schools the Red Cross saw a drop in blood donations too. In the South Carolina Blood Services Region, February’s winter storm forced the cancellation of 40 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in more than 1,300 uncollected blood and platelet donations. In total, the recent storm caused the cancellation of about 265 Red Cross blood drives in the south and along the East Coast, resulting in nearly 9,300 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Back-to-back winter storms had already canceled more than 1,000 blood drives in 34 states and Washington, D.C. this year before this latest storm.

The Palmetto SC Region thanks all of our supporters and volunteers for enabling the Red Cross to assist our community during these times of need. We couldn’t do it without you!