Over the past 100 days, the American Red Cross has responded to more than 80 separate disasters, some accelerated by the effects of the climate crisis.
“We use the phrase 'acute-to-chronic” to describe how the frequency of big disasters has changed so dramatically in the United States over the past 40 years,” reports Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “In the 1980s, we had an average of three billion-dollar disasters each year, while over the past five years the country has seen a 6-fold increase and now averages 18 of them annually.”
Kieserman stated this time of year — November to February — used to be relatively quiet when it came to major disasters in the U.S. For example, in 2014 and 2015 during the same time frame, the Red Cross responded to about 30 disasters, only a third of what occurred over the last 100 days.
“This data highlights how we’re now running major disaster operations nearly continually throughout the year as our climate changes and extreme weather increases,” said Kieserman. “Acute-to-chronic means Red Cross volunteers are regularly on the ground after disasters, setting up shelters, arranging for hot meals and providing comfort to thousands of people with no place else to go.”
Hurricane Ian: Making landfall in Florida in 2022, Ian is tied with several other storms as the fifth-strongest hurricane on record. More than 22,000 homes were destroyed or received major damage due to the storm
Atmospheric Rivers: Beginning in late December and continuing through much of January, multiple back-to-back "atmospheric river" storms hit California bringing life-threatening floods, power-outages, evacuations, landslides, sinkholes and downed trees, damaging hundreds of homes across the state.
Southern Tornadoes: In mid-January, devastating tornadoes struck in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Hardest hit were Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama. The National Weather Service has confirmed 123 tornadoes in the U.S. so far this year. Only one other January since 2000 had over 100 tornado reports.
This extreme weather is not just a 2023 phenomenon. More than 40% of Americans — some 130 million people — lived in a county struck by an extreme weather event in 2021. Year after year, the Red Cross is supporting families who are struggling to cope in the face of increasing climate-driven disasters.
YOU CAN HELP people affected by disasters like floods, fires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Donations for Disaster Relief enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767), or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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