2013 Year End: Behind the Numbers: Mobilizing Responses for Big Disasters

info graph 2013

The Red Cross disaster responses across the country in 2013 included:

  • 16,700 workers—many of them volunteers—providing care, comfort and support to those in need.
  • 89,000 contacts by specially trained workers with disaster victims who needed mental health support or health services, which is more people than the amount of travelers who pass through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on an average day.
  • 1.8 million meals and snacks, the equivalent of feeding the entire population of Philadelphia lunch in a day.
  • 29,000 overnight stays in shelters for people forced from their homes by disasters, enough to fill the largest hotel in New York City for more than two weeks.
  • 1 million relief items distributed, including more than 33,700 toothbrushes.
  • $74 million to more than 60 nonprofit partners to help people and communities recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Flooding

In April, flooding struck 10,000 homes in 10 counties in Illinois. More than a thousand Red Cross volunteers provided shelter and food to displaced families and delivered relief supplies to those returning to waterlogged homes. In September, almost a half-year’s worth of rain fell in just three days across several counties in and around Boulder, Colo. Red Crossers responded and served more than 204,000 meals and snacks, handed out more than 249,000 relief items and provided about 15,000 health and mental health contacts. The Red Cross also provided a total of 3,800 shelter stays for people forced from their homes by the flooding.

Tornadoes and Severe Storms

The largest and most deadly tornado outbreak in 2013 came in Oklahoma in May, when a series of tornadoes ripped through the state, and Red Cross workers were there to comfort the survivors, including the community of Moore, Okla., where two elementary schools were struck by a deadly EF-4 tornado. More than six months later, the Red Cross continues to help residents through long-term recovery centers and other community programs.

In addition, Mississippi was hit particularly hard by severe spring storms for the third year in a row, including a tornado that severely damaged the Red Cross building in Hattiesburg in February. Again in April, the Red Cross was there, opening shelters, providing food and water, and helping survivors recover. In November, dozens of tornadoes cut a path of destruction through the Midwest, damaging more than 1,000 homes and leaving hundreds of thousands without power during a cold snap.

Wildfires

When wildfires threatened communities, the Red Cross offered evacuees a safe place to stay and supported first responders. In total, the Red Cross mobilized more than 2,000 workers to support 10 large wildfire responses in eight states during 2013, such as Colorado, Arizona, California and New Mexico.

Home Fires

It’s not just the high-profile disasters that left thousands of people in need this year. The Red Cross also responded to more than 52,000 home fires across America, helping 226,000 people get back on their feet. For those who have suffered a home fire, the event can be just as devastating as the high profile disasters that get a large amount of national attention. Regardless of the size of the event, the Red Cross responds in the same way—with shelter, food and emotional support.

International Disasters

In 2013, the American Red Cross assisted an estimated 1.3 million people affected by disasters in 24 countries outside of the U.S. These included storms and floods in the Philippines, Argentina, Bangladesh and Nigeria. Red Cross workers continue to respond to the ongoing humanitarian need created by the civil unrest in Syria, as well as needs caused by conflicts in other areas around the world. The Red Cross responded to food insecurity issues in Malawi and Zimbabwe and continued our earthquake recovery work in Haiti that has been ongoing since 2010. Additionally, the Red Cross continued its vital work in reconnecting families separated by conflict and disaster, reconnecting 886 families this year alone.

For more on this year’s disasters, view the end-of-year infographic and video.

The work of the American Red Cross is made possible by donations. Donations can be made by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent by mail to a local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross via P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

About our Holiday Partners:

During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for the support of our corporate partners that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include: Circle K and its customers in the West and Florida divisions, Community Safety Foundation, funded by CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer, Mazda and its Dealers nationwide and University of Phoenix. Thanks to the generosity of these and other sponsors, the Red Cross is able to carry out its mission of helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies everyday here and around the world. Each holiday season the Red Cross gives everyone the chance to support our work by giving blood, signing a card for military heroes or buying a gift through our holiday catalog. To support the Red Cross this Holiday Season, visit redcross.org/holiday.

 

My Challenge Coin Giveaway

By Patty Flowers, CEO, Eastern Wisconsin Region

(l-r) Patty Flowers with Adrianne Benson holding the coin.

(l-r) Patty Flowers with Adrianne Benson holding the coin.

For nearly a century, military personnel have created personalized challenge coins to honor exceptional individuals.

History says that a World War I flying ace had medallions printed for his unit to recognize their loyalty.  One of these men was shot down in Europe and captured by the Germans.  He actually was able to escape only to be captured by the French who thought he was German.  By producing his coin, he proved what unit he was from and apparently saved his life because the French were going to execute him.  What a story!  Challenge coins have lived on throughout the years and are still used to this day to honor individuals.  Military personnel collect these coins as though they are badges of honor.

So how did I, a non-military person, have the privilege of giving away a challenge coin?  The Tiffany Circle is a society of women philanthropists who support the American Red Cross with a generous annual gift in support of many programs and services.  I am a member of Tiffany circle and each year in May there is a summit of women from across the country who gather in Washington DC to learn more about the Red Cross and network to further their Circles back home.  For the last two years at the summit meeting, all attendees received a coin with specific instructions challenging us to uphold this honored tradition by giving away the coin to an individual that is very deserving.  Since last May, I’ve carried my coin in my work bag always looking for just the right occasion to depart with it, until recently.

Please allow me to introduce Adrianne Benson who is in the photograph with me.  Adrianne is a Non-Commissioned Officer in Civil Affairs with the U.S. Army Reserve based in Green Bay.  In her 14 years with the Army she has worked with diverse populations, led humanitarian projects, and served as liaison for several government bodies.  She also served in Afghanistan.  In addition to serving in the military, she is raising a family, is an active volunteer in the community, and she is also attending University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh full-time to earn a Bachelor of Arts International Studies degree.  Through the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Adrianne is part of the AmeriCorps Vet Corps program and has accepted an internship with us through March of 2014.  We are delighted to have her helping with our Service to Armed Forces programs and know she will bring a new perspective that none of us can bring to the table.  Adrianne recently told the story of receiving holiday cards from the Red Cross while she was in Afghanistan.  She said she posted the cards on the wall above her bed and they made her smile because she knew someone in the U.S. was thinking of her.  The Holiday Mail For Heroes program is one that Adrianne will be working on while interning with us and she is proof that these cards make a difference!

I am very proud to give my coin to Adrianne and know that she will always cherish it in the spirit it was given.  Thank you for your service, Adrianne.  We all appreciate you.

What’s Included in Your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit?

m8540166_167x82-winter-storm-3The first day of winter is tomorrow but we are definitely getting hit with lots of snow already. Do you have all of the emergency essentials in your car? Having a vehicle emergency kit available is a great way to prepare for any road or winter emergencies. Also, most kits come in convenient sizes to fit in the glove box. Safety should always be the first priority. It’s recommended to avoid the roads, if necessarily. If you have to drive, be cautious; make sure to buckle up and have a full tank of gas also.

The American Red Cross has a list of essentials that should be included in your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cell Phone Car Charger
  • Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  • Fleece Hat, Gloves, Scarf
  • Flares
  • Folding Shovel
  • Sand or Cat Litter
  • Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Small battery-operated radio
  • Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  • Extra prescription medications
  • Bottled Water
  • High protein snacks
  • Maps
  • Whistle

There are two already-made kits available for purchase on redcross.orgItemImage_580_7193

  • Automobile first-aid zip kit. For $10.00, the kit includes an assortment of bandages, gauze, antiseptic, insect relief pads, sunscreen and sanitizer.
  • Personal Safety Emergency Pack. For $11.00, the kit includes emergency blanket, drinking water, emergency poncho, light stick, whistle, mini first-aid kit and mask.

Know the Difference

  • Winter Storm Outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.
  • Winter Storm Watch: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin with 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

Here is a checklist of precautions you can take during this wintery weather! Also for more information on disasters and emergency preparedness, visit redcross.org.

Give the Gift of Life this Holiday Season

Give something that means something.

This holiday season, the American Red Cross asks you to give something that means something. Give a gift that can help save a life. Give a blood or platelet donation.

Greg Honeywell - Letter Poster

3 Easy Steps to Snap & Share Your Postagram

This holiday season, the American Red Cross has partnered with Postagram to give you a new and exciting way to send a free postcard to your loved ones about your blood donation.

1. Simply upload a picture of yourself giving blood or platelets now through January 6 at rcblood.org/holidaypostcard

2. Write a special message: Invite a loved one to follow in your footsteps and donate blood, or let smae_verticalomeone know you’ve donated blood or platelets in his or her honor.

3. We will deliver your personalized postcard to your friend or family member in the mail, courtesy of the Red Cross and Postagram.

It’s a wonderful way to give something that means something.

Give it a try!

Appointments to donate can be made by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Red Cross Issues Safety Tips to Prevent Holiday Home Fires

The American Red Cross urges residents to take extra precautions with cooking and decorating around the holidays as they are leading causes of home fires.

Fire department on scene of the Ripon Downtown fire displacing 26 people. (photo courtesy WBAY facebook page)

Fire department on scene of the December 11, 2013 Ripon Downtown fire displacing 26 people. (photo courtesy WBAY facebook page)

Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving are the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. In the winter, additional fires are caused as people are entertaining, running space heaters, building fires and stringing holiday lights.  “We’re urging everyone to take extra safety measures to ensure their homes and loved ones are safe,” said Steve Hansen, Chief Operating Officer. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster on average every eight minutes, and the vast majority of them are home fires.

“Within our 28-county region, we have responded to more than 30 fires just since Thanksgiving!” he concluded.

The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to prevent home fires around the holidays:

Holiday Entertaining

  • Test your smoke alarms.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.

Holiday Decorating

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

People can test their knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking the Fire Safety Quiz, and can learn more about fire prevention by visiting redcross.org.

Winter Storm Preparedness

Winter-storm-2Winter storms can range from moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Some winter storms are large enough to affect several states, while others affect only a single community. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be prepared in order to remain safe during these events. Check out our Winter Storm Safety List and see how prepared you are!