The Red Cross is responding to back-to-back massive disasters across the country, including historic wildfires out west, Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and east Texas, and the latest storm, Hurricane Sally, which has waterlogged parts of Florida and Alabama. We are also now closely monitoring Tropical Storm Beta, as it takes aim at the Texas coast.
These nonstop massive disasters have more than 2,600 of Red Cross volunteers, including 48 from the Illinois Region, working tirelessly for weeks to provide food, shelter, comfort and support to people in need. Our work is just beginning; we will be providing support for weeks to come. The Red Cross needs more people to join our volunteer workforce and assist in disaster response across the country. Volunteer positions are open for both deployed positions and some virtual responders. Please go to RedCross.org/volunteer to learn more.
DISASTER OUTLOOK: Currently, the U.S. is on track for what could be its worst hurricane season on record, with 20 named storms already. Forecasters are running out of storm names — for the first time since 2005 — as several more storms develop in the Atlantic. Last week, Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama and Florida as a category 2 storm, leaving entire Gulf Coast neighborhoods flooded. Hundreds of people had to be rescued from flooded homes and vehicles.
While the full extent of the damage isn’t yet known, strong winds and more than 30 inches of rain damaged homes and business, roadways, bridges and other infrastructure in Florida and Alabama.
Devastating wildfires continue to burn millions of acres out west, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate in California, Oregon and Washington, and it could be weeks before evacuees can return home. Entire towns are destroyed, along with thousands of homes and businesses.
Meanwhile, Red Cross volunteers are still helping thousands of people who were impacted by category 4 Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and Texas. The Red Cross is working with partners to help hardest hit communities in their recovery process.
The devastation wrought by these disasters has been further compounded by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission, and we are still providing support as we have previously. To help keep people safe, we are following guidance from CDC and public health authorities — and have put in place additional precautions. Some of these plans include social distancing protocols, face coverings, health screenings, and opening more shelters that can support fewer people than normal.
Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community depending on local emergency operations plans.
Our work is just beginning as we’ll continue to provide assistance to those impacted by these devastating disasters in weeks to come, as they figure out next steps in their recovery.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
LOCAL HOME FIRES -VOLUNTEERS ASSIST 59 PEOPLE IMPACTED BY HOME FIRES ACROSS CHICAGOLAND THIS WEEK
Here at home, our volunteers also worked hard to help 59 people affected by home fires in Chicagoland. In the past week, Disaster Action Team volunteers, responded to 12 home fires in Alsip, Calumet Park, Riverdale, Wenona and more, with six of these incidents occurring in Chicago.
From Monday, September 14 through today, the Red Cross helped 33 adults and 26 children with temporary housing, health and mental health services and information about recovery.
If you need assistance after a local house fire or disaster, please call our dispatch line: 1-877-597-0747. You can take two easy steps to protect your home and loved ones from a fire: Get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
About the American Red Cross of Illinois
The American Red Cross of Illinois serves 12.4 million people in 88 counties in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri including Adams, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cook, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, De Witt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Green, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jasper, Jefferson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Putnam, Richland, Rock Island, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermillion, Warren, Washington, Whiteside, Will, Williamson Winnebago, Woodford. Iowa: Lee, Muscatine, Scott and Van Buren. Missouri: Clark, Lewis, Marion and Ralls. 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 us at Redcross.org/Illinois or visit us on Twitter @RedCrossIL.