In 2023, intensifying extreme disasters took a devastating toll on people in the U.S. who turned to the American Red Cross for help coping with a record number of billion-dollar disasters.
With the growing frequency and intensity of disasters, the Red Cross is racing to adapt its services and grow its disaster response capacity across the country. As part of this national work in 2023, the Red Cross distributed $108 million in financial assistance directly to people after disasters of all sizes, including for tornadoes and flooding that occurred over the summer as well as major disasters such as Hurricane Idalia, the Hawaii wildfires and a spate of tornadoes across multiple states.
“Growing extreme disasters are causing more humanitarian needs for families across our state and across the country,” said Adam Runkle, Regional Disaster Officer for the Illinois Red Cross. “This holiday season, please remember those who need support in the face of emergencies — and join us to provide care and comfort by volunteering your time, making a financial donation or by giving blood.”
Visit https://www.redcross.org/local/illinois/ways-to-donate/local-giving.html for more information about how the Red Cross of Illinois helped people in our communities and across the country in 2023.
Across the country, the Red Cross is delivering this vital financial assistance on top of its immediate relief efforts — including safe shelter, nutritious meals and emotional support — which have been provided on a near-constant basis for this year’s relentless extreme disasters. In fact, this year’s onslaught of large disasters drove an increase in emergency lodging provided by the Red Cross with partners — with overnight stays up more than 50% compared to the annual average for the previous five years.
RESPONDING TO ADDITIONAL EMERGING NEEDS Beyond extreme disasters, people stepped up through the Red Cross to address other emerging needs for communities, including:
- BLOOD DONATIONS: As the nation’s largest blood supplier, the Red Cross is grateful for the millions of donors who rolled up a sleeve throughout the year for patients in need. To further improve people’s health outcomes, the Red Cross has been working with community partners to introduce blood donation to a new and more diverse generation of blood donors — which is critical to ensuring that a reliable blood supply is available to the 1 in 7 hospital patients who need a lifesaving blood transfusion.
- LIFESAVING TRAINING: This year, the Red Cross expanded its training to empower people to act during current-day crises — which is vital considering that nearly half of U.S. adults report being unprepared to respond to a medical emergency. This included launching the new “Until Help Arrives” online training course last spring for opioid overdoses, severe bleeding, cardiac arrest and choking emergencies, and partnering with professional sports leagues through the Smart Heart Sports Coalition to help prevent tragedies among student athletes by offering CPR training and increasing access to AEDs.
- MILITARY FAMILIES: Red Cross workers helped service members on U.S. military installations and deployment sites worldwide — including in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. As part of our support this year, Red Cross volunteers delivered emergency communications messages connecting more than 87,000 service members with their loved ones during times of family need, while also engaging members in morale and wellness activities during deployments.
- INTERNATIONAL: As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross supported international response efforts to disasters such as this year’s massive earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, the drought and hunger crisis in Africa, and flooding in Pakistan and Bangladesh. This has included providing millions in cash assistance, food, shelter, basic supplies, medical care and mental health services. As devastating conflicts persist in other areas of the world, the global Red Cross Movement continues to provide aid for people suffering, including those in Ukraine and in Israel and Gaza, as part of its neutral, humanitarian mission.
HOME FIRE RESPONSE Over the past week, local Red Cross volunteers responded to help 21 people, including five children, in Decatur, Benton, Carlinville, Springfield, and Du Quoin affected by eight home fires, which account for most of the more than 60,000 disasters that the Red Cross responds to annually across the country. Red Cross volunteers provided items to meet immediate needs after a fire and additional support in the form of shelter, health and mental health services and one-on-one support.
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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