Busy year for Red Cross in Louisiana, nationwide

The American Red Cross spent much of 2012 helping people in Louisiana and across the country whose lives were impacted by disasters. Relief efforts were launched in response to 113 large-scale disasters in 42 states and territories between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and the spring Derecho were some of the emergencies affecting communities across the country. From Alaska to Florida, from the East Coast to the West, few regions were spared.

Here in South Louisiana, the Red Cross launched relief operations after Hurricane Isaac struck the area, as well as other storms, tornadoes and floods in DeRidder and elsewhere in Southwest Louisiana and Acadiana. With Isaac alone, 2,000 disaster workers – about half from Louisiana – helped residents by opening 42 shelters, providing 13,000 overnight stays. The volunteers served 475,000 meals and snacks, distributed more than 86,000 relief items and provided more than 11,000 health and mental health contacts. Red Cross long-term relief efforts continue today.

“This disaster affected many people’s lives here in south Louisiana,” said Bruce Cuber, emergency services director. “Red Cross workers from both here at home and across the country worked tirelessly to make sure people had a safe place to stay, food to eat, and help getting their lives back on track.”

Seventy-six South Louisiana volunteers also have served in the northeast, mostly in New York and New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy struck in late October. Almost all have served at least two weeks, one for two months. Twenty-one are currently deployed, with about half volunteering for a second time.

NATIONAL RESPONSES In the United States, the Red Cross opened 907 shelters and provided more than 109,000 overnight stays to help people forced from their homes by disasters. In total, more than 29,000 trained disaster workers served 9.9 million meals and snacks and distributed more than 6.8 million relief items. Health and mental health workers provided more than 141,000 consultations to help people on the road to recovery.

The Red Cross also responded to tragic events that impacted people’s lives in the past year, most recently the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, as well as the mass shootings at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in July and at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August. In all three responses, the Red Cross provided emotional and mental health support, as well as food and drinks for first responders.

Hurricanes Impacted Many Lives

In June, Tropical Storm Debby marked the start of hurricane season by causing widespread flooding across much of Florida. Then in late August, Hurricane Isaac came ashore bringing with it strong winds and drenching rain that impacted Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In response to Isaac across the region, the Red Cross mobilized thousands of disaster workers to help people by opening 157 shelters.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the Atlantic seaboard in late October, leaving massive devastation in its wake. In all, eleven states and Puerto Rico felt the impact with New York and New Jersey seeing the most devastation. The large Red Cross relief effort continues today, weeks after the storm’s landfall. As of Dec. 1, more than 15,300 trained disaster workers – including 76 from South Louisiana – mobilized to provide help. The Red Cross has handed out millions of relief items and meals, provided tens of thousands of health and emotional support contacts to people whose lives have been turned upside down. The Red Cross will be on the ground supporting recovery efforts for some time.

Spring Tornadoes and Floods

In early March, as many as 95 confirmed tornadoes touched down, destroying communities across the Midwest and Southeast. Tornadoes slammed through the Dallas-Fort Worth area in early April, and in mid-April dozens of tornadoes ripped across the Midwest for a second time. In all, severe spring weather affected communities in 16 states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The Red Cross launched responses to provide safe shelter, warm meals and relief supplies to people forced from their homes. Disaster workers served nearly a quarter of a million meals and snacks and handed out more than 112,000 relief items like cleaning supplies and comfort kits.

June Derecho

A string of storms with winds up to 90 miles per hour slammed across Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio and the District of Columbia in June, bringing with them hundreds of reports of impact from severe weather. Millions were without power in areas while high temperatures broke records. The Red Cross provided thousands of overnight stays in more than 70 shelters, served more than 246,000 meals and snacks, and distributed about 128,000 relief items.

Summer Wildfires

Dry conditions fueled devastating wildfires across the western part of the country, forcing evacuations and destroying homes. In response, the Red Cross launched wildfire relief operations in nine states including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and California. The Red Cross provided nearly 4,000 overnight stays in shelters, served more than 159,000 meals and snacks, and handed out tens of thousands of relief items to people in need.

International Response

The American Red Cross helped almost three million people around the world in 2012, responding to 13 disasters in more than 20 countries. These included floods in Bolivia, Peru, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Panama. Assistance was also sent to Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Mali and Malawi to help people affected by food shortages, as well as a drought in Paraguay. Red Cross workers also are responding to help people affected by civil unrest in Syria and a cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone. The American Red Cross responded in Jamaica and Haiti after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in those countries.

Thank You

The Red Cross thanks everyone who has supported disaster relief operations this year. Every nine minutes the Red Cross responds to a disaster in communities across the country. Whether the disaster is a hurricane or a fire in someone’s home, the Red Cross is there.

The Red Cross also provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families – in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world; collects and distributes more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and trains more than 9 million people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills every year.

If someone would like to support the Red Cross mission and help those in need, they can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions also may be sent to the local Red Cross chapter.