The mission of the American Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. Our organization responds to more than 60,000 disasters every year, from a fire in someone’s home to a massive emergency such as the ongoing response to help people in Florida impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Through our strong network of volunteers, donors and partners, the Red Cross is always there in times of need, working to ensure people affected by disaster receive care, shelter and hope.
DURING THE INITIAL RELIEF RESPONSE, the Red Cross works with partners to make sure people have a safe place to stay, food to eat, and relief supplies such as comfort kits containing items like toothbrushes and soap. Trained volunteers provide health, mental health and spiritual support, including help coping with new challenges, managing medical conditions, caring for wounds or injuries, and replacing prescription medications or other critical medical equipment like canes and wheelchairs.
A disaster the size of Ian requires a team effort. The Red Cross is working closely with local officials, government agencies and other nonprofits to coordinate relief efforts and make recovery plans.
Some of the partners the Red Cross is working with for Ian include Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the NAACP, Save the Children, and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and many others to make sure people get the help they need.
As soon as it’s safe, trained Red Crossers help assess the destruction left behind, including how many homes have been affected and the extent of that damage. After Hurricane Ian, Red Cross teams are conducting nearly 200,000 door-to-door detailed residential assessments, including how many homes have been affected and the extent of that damage.
This is one of the largest damage assessments the Red Cross has ever undertaken, and the critical information gleaned from this project will be used to make plans for what support — including financial assistance — families may need in the coming weeks and months. It will also be shared with other nonprofits and government agencies involved in Hurricane Ian recovery efforts.
THE RECOVERY PHASE BEGINS As folks begin to either return home or plan what their next steps will be, the Red Cross is there to help.
For those able to go home, Red Cross emergency response vehicles are out in the communities, distributing meals and snacks as well as relief items such as tarps, rakes, gloves and more.
For people who don’t have homes to return to, the Red Cross and other organizations help them make housing arrangements. Red Cross caseworkers are available at most shelters to meet one-on-one with people to create individual recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate help from other organizations. These volunteers are also trying to connect with people via telephone. Those needing assistance should make sure their phones are set to accept unknown calls.
The Red Cross works with government agencies like FEMA to provide help after disasters. Folks affected by Hurricane Ian are encouraged to apply for federal Disaster Assistance at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 1-200-462-7585). You may be eligible for a variety of support including financial or housing assistance.
CLOSING SHELTERS SIGNALS RECOVERY IS STARTING The closing of emergency shelters is a sign that parts of the community are slowly beginning to recover. Emergency shelters aren’t typically intended to stay open for long periods of time and aren’t the ideal answer for people whose homes are destroyed. Residents plan their next steps by either returning home or moving into more comfortable and longer-term housing solutions.
These housing arrangements will look different for each household. For example, some people may choose to live with friends or family while they rebuild. Others will move into new apartments. And some will be helped through transitional sheltering or other housing programs offered by government agencies and community organizations. Red Cross shelter resident transition teams are helping them work through their specific barriers to return to their pre-disaster lifestyle.
The Red Cross has partnerships with local and national organizations that work alongside us to help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. This includes organizations and partners with county homeless coalitions that work with us to help people who did not have traditional housing prior to the disaster.
WHERE YOUR DONATIONS GO The American Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency. It depends on volunteers and the generosity of its donors to be able to fulfill our mission.
Right now, the Red Cross is using financial donations to help provide shelter, meals and relief supplies to people in Florida impacted by Hurricane Ian. Our top priority is to get people the help and assistance they urgently need. We are proud that an average of 90 cents of every dollar we spend is invested in delivering care and comfort to those in need.
So where do your donations go?
- Donations pay for food, shelter and relief items.
- Donations pay for health and mental health services.
- Donations pay for financial assistance.
- Donations pay to transport, lodge and feed thousands of trained disaster workers who travel to the disaster to help.
- Donations pay for the freight and warehousing expenses that enable the Red Cross to provide cots and blankets for people in shelters, and the hundreds of tractor trailer loads of relief items we give out to help people clean up their homes.
- Donations pay for the equipment, maintenance and fueling of emergency vehicles that deliver meals and relief items to people in need.
- Donations also pay a small portion of our management, general and fundraising expenses that are indispensable to running the organization and helping people in need. They include the people and systems to maintain our computer and telecommunications, HR and payroll systems to support our more than 20,000 employees and nearly 314,000 volunteers, fundraising and communications functions, and other support services across all program lines.
HOW YOU CAN HELP To help people affected by Hurricane Ian, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word IAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Financial donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.
If you have the time, you can make a significant impact as a Red Cross volunteer. Review our most urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday.