Even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, emergencies don’t stop and neither does the American Red Cross. Local volunteers are still at work in communities providing care and comfort after disasters of all sizes, including home fires.
The Red Cross is working closely with public health officials to ensure the safety of local communities and our workforce, while also providing the help and hope people need. On average the Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters across the country every year and the majority of these are home fires. In the first two months of this year we have already helped more than 42,000 individuals who have felt the devastation of a home fire disaster.
Due to this coronavirus outbreak, the Red Cross is providing relief services after home fires virtually and by remote work. For a family who has lost everything after a fire, we can still provide financial assistance as well as other resources like health and mental health support over the phone.
For example, after a recent fire destroyed a home in southwest Philadelphia, a local volunteer used video conferencing to connect directly with the affected family to help find them a place to stay and learn about what they needed.
Later, another volunteer was able to drop off materials for the family, including a debit card with emergency cash assistance, all while following social distancing guidelines. Using technology, the Red Cross was able to help the family move forward with the resources they needed to plan their next steps.
Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital patients still need lifesaving blood, neighbors still need relief and care after home fires, and military families still need support. Helping during crises is at the heart of what we do, and it’s who we are. Our Red Cross workforce is dedicated to serving communities and carrying out our mission.
If you have experienced a disaster and need extra support due to the new fears and stresses you may be feeling during this time, call the free, confidential SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
You can find more information on COVID-19 safety here. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.
If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found through the World Health Organization and by following your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society’s social media channels.