The American Red Cross responds to natural disasters across the world. Recently, the organization has been actively involved in supporting individuals affected by Hurricane Dorian in the United States and the Bahamas. Early in the storm’s progression, the organization committed $2 million to meet the needs of individuals in the Bahamas affected by the hurricane while also setting up shelter and providing food to individuals living on the East Coast.
The American Red Cross’ Response to Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Dorian devastated many of the islands in the Bahamas, especially Grand Bahama and Abaco, both of which resulted in the destruction of homes and the contamination of water sources. Initial assessments of Abaco revealed large sections of the island that were completely obliterated and covered by water, leaving thousands in need of basic necessities. Delivering aid proved difficult due to the destruction of local airports and the obliteration of communications networks. Even helicopters sent to rescue stranded individuals often had difficulty in finding a place to land.
Shortly after the hurricane passed through the Bahamas, the American Red Cross had already set up shelter for more than 1,500 families while working to rescue individuals and provide immediate relief to people who had gone days without food. The initial shipment of supplies included 38 tons of items and was quickly followed by two additional deliveries, while both nurses and EMT teams worked closely with affected families and transported them to medical care facilities.
Within the United States, the American Red Cross mobilized 3,000 volunteers to assist people seeking refuge in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Virginia, as winds reached speeds of 90 miles per hour. Thousands of people stayed in Red Cross evacuation shelters, where they received meals and snacks as they waited for the storm to pass. In preparation for the storms, the organization also sent blood products and other hospital supplies to medical centers across the Southeast. This kind of preparation, even if not ultimately needed, has the potential to save many lives and is a key aspect of the organization’s work.
Continued Aid Efforts in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey
The American Red Cross takes a longitudinal approach to helping individuals affected by natural disasters like hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc across parts of Texas and Louisiana two years ago. Since then, the organization has mobilized nearly $500 million in donations to help people find refuge and rebuild after the storm. The hurricane resulted in one of the largest flooding events in the history of the United States. Red Cross volunteers continue to work with communities to rebuild and become better prepared for a similar event in the future.
Part of the Red Cross’ work in the wake of Hurricane Harvey has involved recovery grants to fuel long-term efforts undertaken by more than 120 local nonprofits. So far, the organization has bestowed $59 million in grants to keep recovery efforts afloat. These grants, which help with home repair and rebuilding services, are targeted toward families with few or no resources. The funding has also provided critical mental health services, which are particularly geared toward affected children, and supported legal advocacy groups. Assistance has also been focused on older individuals, people without access to government services, and those with disabilities.
The American Red Cross also gives direct financial assistance to people affected by storms such as Hurricane Harvey. In total, 575,000 households collectively received about $230 million in immediate assistance in the initial months after the disaster. The funds are intended for basic needs such as groceries, clothing, and utilities, as well as to cover the costs associated with evacuation. In the months after, the Red Cross continued to provide grants to support the long-term needs of certain households. The funding has covered temporary housing, as well as home repairs, the replacement of furniture and appliances, and more.
Critical Support Following Other Natural Disasters
Earlier this year, the American Red Cross also provided critical support to communities across the Midwest, from Texas to New York, as they dealt with severe weather. Hundreds of individuals headed to Red Cross shelters as their communities were hit by tornadoes and destroyed by flooding. The organization worked across eight states to open shelters and connect individuals to immediate resources, including food, health care, and emotional support. In addition, volunteers helped individuals to assess damage to their property and plan the next steps toward recovery.
Between April and May of 2019, over 740 tornadoes touched down in the United States. The storms caused the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers to rise, which led to major flooding in more than 30 cities. The Red Cross responded to these threats and prepared for further destruction as weather reports continued to predict severe conditions. Today, the organization continues to seek to ensure that communities across the country and around the world are prepared for impending disasters in order to mitigate damage and help people to recover as quickly as possible.