In 2013 the American Red Cross responded to large disasters nearly every other day. Communities across the nation – and here at home – dealt with deadly tornadoes, fierce wildfires and destructive floods. In all, the organization launched 146 large disaster relief efforts in 42 states and territories.
“In addition to the large disaster response operations, this year regionally, Red Cross volunteers assisted more than 1,500 families after home fires and other disasters,” said Cindy Erickson, Regional CEO of the Red Cross. “From those executing our mission on the ground, to those powering it with donations, we are so very grateful to all who support our efforts to help our neighbors during their darkest hours.”
Here at Home
The Greater St. Louis Region assisted more than 5,000 people in 2013 after house fires, tornadoes and floods. This year, staff and volunteers responded to multiple larger disasters in the region, including:
About 2,000 volunteers support the Red Cross mission in this region. In 2013, about 260 local volunteers deployed on national disaster relief operations, including Colorado, Oklahoma and the East Coast.
The work of the Red Cross is made possible by the generous support of donors, from individuals to major corporations. In 2013, several local companies donated large gifts to help the Red Cross fulfill its mission “to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.” The corporations include Anheuser-Busch, Emerson, Enterprise, Monsanto and Build-A-Bear. Locally, the American Red Cross is a proud member agency of the United Way, which makes significant investments every year in Red Cross services.
Behind the Numbers: Mobilizing Responses for Big Disasters
The Red Cross disaster responses across the country in 2013 included:
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-year’s 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.
Tornadoes 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 year in a row, 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.
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.
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.