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American Red Cross Phases Into Community Recovery Effort


As emergency needs are met, Hurricane Recovery Program maximizes partnerships and community resources.

WASHINGTON, Monday, February 27, 2006 — Now that the emergency phase in many hurricane-devastated areas has passed, the American Red Cross today announced a new program that will help survivors begin rebuilding lives dismantled by the worst hurricane season in American history.

When hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma slammed into the southern United States, the Red Cross provided safe shelter, food and water, first aid and emotional support for millions of families – vigorously fulfilling the role it has taken in disaster response for nearly 125 years.

Now, as families from the devastated region begin to rebuild their lives, the Red Cross is stepping up its traditional post-disaster role, concentrating resources in three areas over the next two years:

* Helping survivors access health and mental health resources to meet ongoing disaster-caused needs.

* Assisting families in developing strong disaster recovery plans and finding the community resources they need to recover.

* Working with long-standing partners and developing new partnerships to help communities build the capacity to meet the needs of those affected by this disaster, as well as disasters the community might face in the future.

As part of its Hurricane Recovery Program, trained Red Cross caseworkers will help hurricane-affected families develop their own plans for recovery and identify community resources. For families that have relocated to a new community, for example, the Red Cross will help them contact agencies and organizations in their new hometown that provide services they need.

“This program will use the network of more than 800 local Red Cross chapters across the country to help families map out their own individual roads to recovery,” said Russ Paulsen, executive director of the Hurricane Recovery Program. “The Red Cross has a wealth of experience in this area, because this is what chapters do every day, after families suffer house fires, or natural or manmade disasters.”

In areas where the Red Cross is not a primary resource for special populations – such as neighborhoods and communities where English is not the primary language – the Red Cross will partner with organizations that have established relationships there, strengthening the community’s capacity to help survivors overcome recovery hurdles.

As part of the community, the Red Cross will play an active role with local government, non-profit and other partners to identify unique needs in impacted communities and fill those gaps. “For example, in a community where the housing stock was devastated, the Red Cross will work with other organizations to jump-start the rebuilding process. The Red Cross itself doesn’t build houses, but it will advocate for families and help forge coalitions of appropriate public, private and other non-profit organizations to meet the needs of those most vulnerable,” Paulsen said.

Given the epic destruction left by the hurricanes, the Red Cross expects the Hurricane Recovery Program will be active for about two years and cost about $200 million – approximately 10 percent of the $2.12 billion the Red Cross estimates as the cost to respond to hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Paulsen pointed out that the program is a natural extension of the Red Cross response to the big three hurricanes of 2005, when more than 225,000 Red Cross responders met emergency needs throughout the devastated Gulf Coast region. Working with a wide array of national and local partners – and funded by the generosity of the American people – the Red Cross:

* Served more than 34 million meals and 30 million snacks.
* Opened nearly 1,200 shelters in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
* Provided more than 3.4 million overnight stays for nearly 500,000 people.
* Distributed more than $1.45 billion in emergency financial assistance to survivors for immediate needs.
* Established the Red Cross Family Linking service, where more than 340,000 people listed their whereabouts on-line to reconnect with loved ones separated in the chaos of the storms.

The American Red Cross is where people mobilize to help their neighbors—across the street, across the country and across the world—in emergencies. Each year, in communities large and small, victims of some 70,000 disasters turn to neighbors familiar and new—the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Some 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world’s most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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