RESPONDING TO DISASTERS In California alone, the Red Cross provided more than 242,400 overnight stays for people affected by the 8,500 wildfires that burned more than 4 million acres. In LA, the Red Cross responded to several fires including the Bobcat Fire and smaller home fires. More than 300 Angelenos answered the call to help, both in person and virtually, to assist with relief efforts in Northern California and Oregon. The relief effort was one of the biggest endeavors made by this region.
Though we are still providing service, to date the Red Cross has served more than 816,300 meals and distributed more than 53,000 relief items to people affected by the Western Wildfires.
Volunteers also aided more than 1,200 Angelinos affected by home fires, providing secure places to stay along with warm meals, emotional support and other disaster assistance as needed.
IMPLEMENTING COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS Many of the standard Red Cross services had to change as we knew it was going to be an intense year of responding to disasters. Red Cross LA quickly restructured how to support people forced to leave home due to disaster and safety protocols were put in place to keep everyone safe from COVID-19. To quickly and safely evacuate communities, the Red Cross established temporary evacuation centers, a safe place for people to receive Red Cross support and guidance. In addition, sheltering people in hotels, providing masks and increasing the cleaning schedule were made a routine part of the process.
INTRODUCING NEW LEADERSHIP In July 2020, Florida native Joanne Nowlin became the first woman to serve Red Cross LA as CEO. After three years supporting Southern Florida’s Red Cross (region) through a series of destructive hurricane seasons, Joanne brought to LA her disaster expertise, compassion and earnest desire to support the Region as we faced our most trying year in decades.
DELIVERING URGENT AID As the pandemic escalated, most of the 1,200 people who joined our volunteer ranks this year stepped up to fill mission-critical positions, such as disaster shelter and health workers, blood donor ambassadors and transportation specialists. Volunteers helped us maintain a constant presence in communities, and that our lifesaving services would always be available.
“This has been a year like no other, facing disaster amid a pandemic. Through it all, our region made up of more than 10,000 Red Crossers stepped up to help others — even as they coped with the impact of these events and COVID-19,” said Joanne Nowlin, CEO of the Red Cross LA Region. “Their selfless and kind-hearted actions underscore the unwavering humanitarian spirit of people in Los Angeles, and we are incredibly grateful for their willingness to give to others.”
FEEDING LA’s COMMUNITIES When Los Angeles schools and their meal programs closed for COVID-19 safety, the Red Cross feared half a million school children could go hungry. In mid-March, Red Cross LA partnered with the second largest school district in the country, the Los Angeles Unified School District, in a partnership that distributed more than 40 million meals in 15 weeks to those affected by school closures, thanks to the hard work of more than 1,400 volunteers.
SAVING LIVES THROUGH BLOOD DONATIONS In 2020, Red Cross blood drive cancellations tripled compared to 2019 — mostly due to COVID-19. Since March, more than 50,000 blood drives were canceled as the pandemic forced schools, businesses and community organizations to close, impacting more than 1 million blood donation appointments nationwide.
The Red Cross also adapted its collections policyt to include plasma from COVID-19 survivors to potentially help those battling the virus recover. Thousands of COVID-19 survivors have stepped up to share their potentially lifesaving antibodies by giving plasma. Since April, nearly 25,000 COVID-19 survivors have rolled up a sleeve — many of whom are new to blood donation. Their donations have enabled the Red Cross to ship nearly 50,000 units to hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients.