Red Cross for the Western Carolinas Region: It was a busy year

Here’s the update from Brian W. Scoles, the chief public affairs officer for the American Red Cross of the Western North Carolinas Region:

Western Carolinas, Thursday, December 20, 2012 — The American Red Cross spent much of 2012 helping people all across the country whose lives were impacted by disasters. Relief efforts were launched in response to 113 large scale disasters in 42 states and territories between January 1 and December 1. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and the spring Derecho were some of the emergencies affecting communities all across the country. From Alaska to Florida, from the East Coast to the West, few regions were spared.

“Hurricane Sandy dominated the news coverage, but it wasn’t the only disaster that disrupted lives in 2012,” said Ann Wright, Regional Chief Executive Officer for the Western Carolinas Red Cross.“ “The number of lives affected by large disasters in the past year is simply staggering. The Red Cross responded to devastating hurricanes, flooding and wildfires that wiped out entire neighborhoods, offering people shelter, food and comfort.”

In the United States, the Red Cross opened 907 shelters and provided more than 109,000 overnight stays to help people forced from their homes by disasters. In total, more than 29,000 trained disaster workers served 9.9 million meals and snacks and distributed more than 6.8 million relief items. Health and mental health workers provided more than 141,000 consultations to help people on the road to recovery.

The Red Cross also responded to tragic events that impacted people’s lives in the last year, most recently the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, as well as the mass shootings at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July and at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August. In all three responses, the Red Cross provided emotional and mental health support, as well as food and drinks for first responders.

In the Western Carolinas

Not only has it been busy throughout the United States, but it’s been busy right here in the Western Carolinas. Since January 1, 2012, the Red Cross has responded to 685 incidents of varying kinds from single and multi-family fires, to hazardous materials spills, tornadoes and floods. A total of 2,054 clients have been served and the year is not quite over yet.

Hurricanes Impacted Many Lives

In June, Tropical Storm Debby marked the start of hurricane season by causing widespread flooding across much of Florida. Then in late August, Hurricane Isaac came ashore bringing with it strong winds and drenching rain that impacted Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In response to Isaac, the Red Cross mobilized thousands of disaster workers to help people by opening 157 shelters, providing thousands of overnight stays. Volunteers served hundreds of thousands of meals, distributed more than 140,000 relief items and provided thousands of health and mental health contacts.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the Atlantic seaboard in late October, leaving massive devastation in its wake. In all, eleven states and Puerto Rico felt the impact with New York and New Jersey seeing the most devastation. The large Red Cross relief effort continues today, weeks after the storm’s landfall. As of December 1, more than 15,300 trained disaster workers mobilized to provide help. The Red Cross has handed out millions of relief items and meals, provided tens of thousands of health and emotional support contacts to people whose lives have been turned upside down. The Red Cross will be on the ground supporting recovery efforts for some time.

Spring Tornadoes and Floods

In early March, as many as 95 confirmed tornadoes touched down, destroying communities across the Midwest and Southeast. Tornadoes slammed through the Dallas-Fort Worth area in early April and in mid-April, dozens of tornadoes ripped across the Midwest for a second time.

In all, severe spring weather affected communities in 16 states, including Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas. The Red Cross launched responses to provide safe shelter, warm meals and relief supplies to people forced from their homes. Disaster workers served nearly a quarter of a million meals and snacks and handed out more than 112,000 relief items like cleaning supplies and comfort kits.

June Derecho

A string of storms with winds up to 90 miles per hour slammed across Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio and the District of Columbia in June, bringing with them hundreds of reports of impact from severe weather. Millions were without power in areas while high temperatures broke records. The Red Cross provided thousands of overnight stays in more than 70 shelters, served more than 246,000 meals and snacks, and distributed about 128,000 relief items.

Summer Wildfires

Dry conditions fueled devastating wildfires across the western part of the country, forcing evacuations and destroying homes. In response, the Red Cross launched wildfire relief operations in nine states including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and California. The Red Cross provided nearly 4,000 overnight stays in shelters, served more than 159,000 meals and snacks, and handed out tens of thousands of relief items to people in need.

International Response

The American Red Cross helped almost three million people around the world in 2012, responding to 13 disasters in more than 20 countries. These included floods in Bolivia, Peru, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Panama. Assistance was also sent to Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Mali and Malawi to help people affected by food shortages, as well as a drought in Paraguay. Red Cross workers are also responding to help people affected by civil unrest in Syria and a cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone. The American Red Cross responded in Jamaica and Haiti after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in those countries.

Thank You

The Red Cross thanks everyone who has supported disaster relief operations this year. Every nine minutes the Red Cross responds to a disaster in communities across the country. Whether the disaster is a hurricane or a fire in someone’s home, the Red Cross is there.

If someone would like to support the Red Cross mission and help those in need, they can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, 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 join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Brian W. Scoles, MPS
Chief Public Affairs Officer


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