Disasters Keep American Red Cross Busy Around the Globe

American Red Cross helps those bombarded by weather and other crises

When Superstorm Sandy hit the U.S. Eastern seaboard in October, 2012, the American Red Cross was on the scene. Red Cross dove into action with 17,000 trained workers to assist residents in every aspect of their lives. Food, shelter, housing and community assistance, individual casework, and other needs were met through American Red Cross assistance.

Getting whole communities functioning after the storm did not happen overnight. Red Cross’s budget of $313.1 million spent as of October, 2015 on relief from Sandy’s devastation was used to put people’s lives back together. Long-term recovery grants totaling $95.2 million had been pledged as of October 15, 2015 with business partnerships taking up the challenge to provide funds so community groups such as Salvation Army, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, recovery groups, and community centers could continue to overcome the challenges of Sandy’s devastation. The total estimated damage Sandy caused is pegged at $75 billion.

New Challenges in 2017

Just in 2017 so far, American Red Cross has dealt with flooding in Nevada and California. Flooding was so severe that it required evacuation for Sonoma, Plumas and Lassen counties, plus North Fork in California, due to rockslides and flooding. Lake Tahoe residents were asked to evacuate. And, in Nevada, Douglas County residents were ordered to leave. American Red Cross and community programs offered shelters.

Coast to coast, American Red Cross, working with partners and volunteers, has installed smoke alarms in homes in 8,400 cities and towns nationwide. Since 2014 when the campaign began, 619,000 smoke alarms were installed with the help of 3,700 partners. As many of American Red Cross’s projects are small ones, often involving single home fires, the Home Fire Campaign is ongoing to reach households at risk from house fires. Prevention of these family disasters is the goal, even including teaching children fire preparedness. Over 15,000 smoke alarms were being installed on the 2017 Martin Luther King Day, January 17 by volunteers nationwide.

Early in 2017, Red Cross put out a call to request blood donations. As 40 percent of the country’s blood is supplied by Red Cross, when 37,000 fewer donations came in over the 2016 holiday period, hospitals were using more than they could replace. With storms and holiday events, donations were severely reduced. Since an estimated need for 14,000 blood donations is required daily to supply hospitals and transfusion center around the country, the impact can be life threatening.

Campers and counselors at Kids AT enjoy a game of volleyball in the swimming pool during a break from activities at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Joint Maneuver Training Center.
Campers and counselors at Kids AT enjoy a game of volleyball in the swimming pool during a break from activities at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Joint Maneuver Training Center.

Partners an Essential Part of the Lifesaving Process

The American Red Cross does not have the staff to accomplish all of their life-saving efforts. To accomplish the many projects in the U.S. and around the world, business partnerships and many volunteers are required. From rolling up their sleeves at blood drives to collecting funds to staffing emergency efforts, volunteers make the difference.

Providing children with lifesaving vaccines in Haiti, American Red Cross supplied $1 million to inoculate children so that the spread of measles, rubella, and polio can be stopped. The funds help door-to-door campaigns to spread the word about inoculations, as well as funding for the inoculations.

Another preventive measure that American Red Cross has spearheaded for over 100 years is teaching children swimming and water safety. The fund for this project is available through partnerships like those with Trugreen. TruGreen funds support swim lesson registration, water safety instructors, lifeguard training and educational kits for both children and their families in counties in Florida where child drowning rates are the highest in the country for children under 15. Minority communities have lower access to swimming lessons with six out of 10 African American children and seven out of 10 Latino children unable to swim.

Assisting military families is a Red Cross Program. On the bases and at hospitals word-wide, Red Cross serves military on a constant basis, even after military members complete their service.

In seeking partners, donors, and volunteers, American Red Cross mounts an ongoing campaign. Preparedness is the approach, because no one can predict the future. Donations and corporate partnerships are welcomed, as well as volunteers for everything from serving during disasters to staffing safety events. Children as young as elementary school age can provide service through local Red Cross chapters and clubs at their schools.

Melissa Thompson

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.