One of the primary functions of the American Red Cross is to respond to natural disasters. After a cluster of historic hurricanes devastated numerous communities, the organization has been working around the clock to respond to individual needs and facilitate recovery. Altogether, the American Red Cross has provided shelter for more than 1 million people affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and offered more than 4 million meals. The organization has also mobilized nearly 5,000 disaster workers to respond to the crises and dispatched hundreds of emergency response vehicles to provide vital support services. In addition to offering food and shelter, the American Red Cross has already connected more than 130,000 people to mental and physical health services.
Responding to the Flooding of Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey resulted in the most devastating flooding event in American history. Thousands of people lost everything and are still struggling to figure out where to go from here. With the generous support of donors from across the country, the American Red Cross continues to provide services to affected individuals and families as they make plans to get back on their feet.
After the hurricane, the organization set up 15 shelters in Texas in partnership with other organizations and brought in thousands of relief workers to assist people in Texas and Louisiana. The organization also created 16 emergency kitchens, each of which produces 10,000 meals per day. Facilitating the organization’s work were its hurricane and emergency apps, which allowed people to receive real-time information about shelter locations and check in as safe with their families and loved ones.
The American Red Cross also distributed critical health and hygiene items, from toothbrushes to deodorant. Furthermore, the organization has provided more than $142 million in grants to households in Texas to help residents cope with the immediate effects of the disaster.
As flood waters continue to recede, the American Red Cross knows that its work is not over. In addition to connecting people to the resources that they need, the organization has created a guide for returning home. This guide helps keep all members of the family safe from common flooded-area issues, from contaminated water to downed power lines. Also, the guide offers some guidance on making immediate repairs to a home and filing claims with insurance companies.
Helping in the Wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria
Within a matter of days, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands felt the wrath of two hurricanes, Irma and Maria. The American Red Cross moved quickly to respond to the areas that were most affected by the storms. Getting relief items to these islands has proven a challenge, but the organization has teamed with government, community, and corporate partners to take advantage of both sea and air transport routes. Shelters are open in both territories to meet the basic needs of hundreds of families as they deal with the loss. Many places continue to lack communication systems and power, but the organization has reached out to the international community to bring knowledgeable workers and volunteers to the area to offer assistance.
The American Red Cross is also working diligently in Florida, which Hurricane Irma affected greatly. The organization sent disaster-response vehicles to the areas with the most devastation to serve as nucleuses for the relief efforts, and it has set up many shelters. However, the organization continues to help people find longer-term accommodations if their homes were destroyed or otherwise rendered unlivable. Collaboration with government programs and community organizations has helped move many people to better living situations, where they can begin creating a strategic plan for the future.
International Relief Efforts in the Caribbean and Mexico
The work of the American Red Cross is not limited to American territories, especially in times of crisis. Because Hurricanes Irma and Maria affected so many countries, the organization has undertaken massive relief programs in the Caribbean. Focusing on islands with the greatest need, the organization earmarked a substantial amount of money to help relief efforts on Dominica, which has seen its ports and airports closed and its main hospital disabled. A team was dispatched to the island to deliver food, water, and sanitation materials, as well as to construct temporary shelter. The organization has also worked with its Caribbean counterparts to ensure that together, they can meet the needs of all those affected by the storms.
The American Red Cross has also responded to the 7.1 earthquake in Mexico that claimed a devastating number of lives. In addition to committing $100,000 to help with efforts organized by the Mexican Red Cross, the organization has offered other forms of humanitarian aid and assistance in Mexico City and surrounding areas, as well as Oaxaca and Chiapas, both of which are still recovering from an 8.2 tremor early in September.