2017 was a year of record-breaking disasters and the American Red Cross mobilized quickly to help people in need, providing more food, relief supplies and shelter stays than all of the last four years combined.
In just 45 days, the Red Cross responded to six of the year’s largest and most complex disasters. This included back-to-back hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate — the deadliest week of wildfires in California history, and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas.
As 2017 comes to a close, the Red Cross is also now responding to devastating and quick-moving wildfires across much of Southern California, opening shelters and providing food, comfort, and a safe place for people forced from their homes.
242 LARGE DISASTER RESPONSES IN 2017 In all, the Red Cross mobilized more than 56,000 disaster workers — 92 percent volunteers — to provide help to people affected by 242 significant disasters in 45 states and three territories. This aid included:
* Opening 1,100 emergency shelters to provide 658,000 overnight stays
* Serving 13.6 million meals and snacks
* Distributing 7 million relief items
* Providing 267,000 health and mental health consultations
* Supporting 624,000 households with recovery assistance
Altogether, Red Cross emergency response vehicles traveled 2.5 million miles to deliver food, relief supplies and support to communities affected by disasters during 2017. That’s the equivalent of driving around the earth 103 times.
CENTRAL FLORIDA RESPONSE Here in Central Florida, the Red Cross launched relief operations after two named storms affected our communities -- Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Emily, and provided support to thousands of evacuees of Hurricane Maria who arrived in our state. Local disaster relief teams also responded to a variety of emergencies including localized flooding, tornadoes, sinkholes and Florida wildfires.
In addition to our work at home, more than 100 Central Florida volunteers deployed all over the country to help with major responses to Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Nate, catastrophic flooding across the Midwest, and raging wildfires in California.
“In a year marked by historic hurricanes, wildfires and what seems like countless other crises, the American Red Cross was there for a record number of people – making sure people had shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on,” said Jennifer Pipa, CEO of the American Red Cross Central Florida. “Here at home, I’m so grateful for our team members and volunteers who were there to deliver services, even as many were directly impacted by these catastrophic events.”
MOST FREQUENT DISASTER The most frequent type of disaster the Red Cross responded to in 2017 was a fire in someone’s home. The Red Cross responded to nearly 50,000 home fires, and provided casework assistance to help 76,000 families recover.
Through its Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross and thousands of local partners are working to help prevent home fires and save lives by installing smoke alarms, helping families create home fire plans and offering youth education programs. During 2017, more than 382,000 free smoke alarms were installed and 401,000 people were reached through home visits. Since the Campaign launched in 2014, 303 lives have been saved, more than 1 million smoke alarms have been installed, and 940,000 youth have been taught about the importance of fire safety.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, wildfires and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Please consider making a donation today. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to its programs and services, which includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.
WITH APPRECIATION Generous donations from Florida businesses and organizations enable the American Red Cross of Central Florida to respond when disasters occur and help families during the recovery process. With tremendous gratitude, we acknowledge the following Florida corporate partners who helped meet this year’s extraordinary needs: Circle K, Publix, the Glazer Family and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Vinik Family Foundation and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Kforce, Raymond James, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, Hilton Grand Vacations, Mosaic, Red Lobster, Rooms to Go, Bealls, Domain Homes, First Watch, Mattress One, Space Coast Credit Union, the Spurlino Family Foundation, Amscot, and the Mabel and Ellsworth Simmons Charitable Foundation.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.