2018 Disaster Response: American Red Cross helps millions in the wake of record wildfires, hurricanes and devastating weather

Disaster workers from Northeast Ohio among the responders

 

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

After another year of record-breaking disasters, the American Red Cross helped millions across the country by providing shelter, food and comfort to those affected.

California Wildfires 2018In 2018, disasters were felt across the country. In California, massive wildfires scorched more than 8.5 million acres, resulting in some of the most destructive wildfires in state history for a second year in a row. Six major hurricanes impacted the United States, devastating communities across nine states and U.S. territories in just three months’ time. Red Cross volunteers also responded with support and crisis counseling to communities affected by six tragic shootings, including those in Parkland, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Thousand Oaks, California.

“For a second year in a row, American Red Cross disaster workers from Northeast Ohio tirelessly delivered care and hope for people whose lives were torn apart by record disasters,” said Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responded to these and other crises, big and small – including responding to three home fires every 24-hours, on average, in Northeast Ohio, which devastate families each and every day.”

The Red Cross mobilized more than 14,000 disaster workers in 2018—90 percent of which were volunteers. The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross deployed 122 disaster workers to assist in the relief efforts for the California wildfires and Hurricanes Michael and Florence.  All four emergency response vehicles based in Northeast Ohio were also deployed to the disaster response operations.

In 2018, the Red Cross:

  • Served more than 8.2 million meals and snacks with partners
  • Distributed more than 2.2 million relief items
  • Provided more than 290,000 overnight shelter stays with partners
  • Made more than 188,000 health and mental health contacts to provide support and care

Additionally, the Red Cross helped to reconnect more than 3,000 people separated by this year’s disasters, including Diane Papedo and her brother, who was displaced by wildfires in California. Diane had worried about her brother’s fate until she learned he was at a Red Cross shelter. Reuniting with him there, she immediately felt a sense of relief. “I saw him right away, it’s a miracle,” Diane said. Hurricane Harvey 2017

As 2018 comes to a close, the Red Cross continues to help those affected by major disasters, including the earthquake and ongoing aftershocks that have struck Alaska in recent days. We’re also continuing to help people affected by the California wildfires, Hurricanes Michael and Florence, and Typhoon Yutu on the Mariana Islands.

HOME FIRES MOST FREQUENT DISASTER

In the United States, home fires are the most frequent disaster. This year, the Red Cross has provided recovery support for more than 73,000 households affected by home fires. We continue to work to keep people safe through our Home Fire Campaign, where Red Cross volunteers go door-to-door to install free smoke alarms and help households create home fire escape plans. In 2018, Red Cross volunteers:

  • Installed nearly 400,000 smoke alarms, including 17,546 in Northeast Ohio
  • Reached more than 219,000 youth through preparedness programs. In Northeast Ohio alone, there were over 6,000 educational visits.
  • Made more than 165,000 homes safer through home fire safety visits, including more than 6,000 homes in Northeast Ohio.

Here are some tips to help keep your home safe this holiday season.

HELPING AROUND THE WORLD

As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross responded to more than 20 disasters around the world in 2018, aiding in humanitarian crises such as the tsunami in Indonesia and the volcano in Guatemala. The American Red Cross helped to reconnect nearly 9,200 family members separated by international conflict, disaster or migration. We deployed emergency responders to disaster zones in seven countries and sent humanitarian aid to more than 18 countries, including monetary donations, lifesaving supplies and trained disaster responders.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

This holiday season, you can help people affected by disasters like wildfires, storms and 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 redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). You can also make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

There are also other ways to help the Red Cross.

Without the tremendous support of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to support the thousands of people we were able to in 2018. If you are interested in making an impact in local communities, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

The Red Cross provides roughly 40 percent of the United States’ critical blood supply. There is always a need for blood donors to help provided this lifesaving resources to those in need. If you would like to donate blood, you can make an appointment to donate at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

As always, the Red Cross would like to thank everyone for there support. Your support has made and impact in Northeast Ohio and across the country. Here is a video to show how much your support matters to us and the impact you helped provide in our communities:

 

Resolve to be Prepared

by: Melissa Papini, Disaster Program Manager

As we spend time reflecting on the closing of 2017, celebrating the season with our loved ones, being thankful for all the little things that bring us joy like safety and security, let’s also take time to think about (and say prayers for, if you’re so moved) our friends and family all over the world whose safety and security was threatened this year by natural disasters.

12292-409.jpgI recently heard an interview on the radio about a couple who moved from Brooklyn, NY to Ventura, CA this year. The interview was about the mandatory evacuations in their neighborhood related to the Thomas fire. They talked about how different it is to live in a community that has to be prepared at all times to flee their homes. Everyone they know has an emergency kit ready for not if, but when the wildfires get too close. That observation struck me. We live in a part of the country where very few people have natural disasters on their minds regularly. How many people do you know in Northeast Ohio that have an emergency kit ready at home?

Through my recent career move to “all things disaster,” my 10-year-old daughter has picked up on the idea of disaster preparedness. She has heard me talking about the Pillowcase Project and has created her own emergency kit that she’s packed in a pillowcase. She has a change of clothes, a flashlight, and a first aid kit ready to go if we ever need it. After reviewing the checklist in the Pillowcase Project booklet, I may suggest she add things like toiletries, markers and paper, a blanket, and a favorite toy.

For a detailed list of items that you can put together to create an entire household emergency kit please refer to our previous posts. There are also many Red Cross apps that can help you be prepared for and alerted about local disasters.

One other thing I’ve realized about preparedness through follow-up casework with our clients who’ve had home fires is how important it is to create an inventory of the contents of your home. If you are ever in a situation where you have a fire, your insurance company cannot begin to help you start replacing things until you’ve created a detailed inventory list for them. This is a daunting task for people who have millions of other things on their minds after a home fire. The easiest way to do this is take videos in each room of your home. Be sure to open drawers where you may have valuables too. Keep a copy of this video somewhere safe like an external hard drive in a fire proof lock box, the cloud, or you can even email it to yourself.

If you are like me and can’t wait to crack open your new planner for 2018 and start making lists of goals, be sure to add preparedness to your list of resolutions!