Red Cross Honors Survivors of Hurricane Katrina
Two years ago, the gulf region was overcome by a rapid series of storms that caused devastation unlike any in this country’s history. The American Red Cross quickly responded to provide emergency assistance throughout the region. Today, the Red Cross remains dedicated to the recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast even as it responds to current emergency needs across the nation.
Hurricane Katrina left in its wake utter devastation and despair throughout the gulf. America responded to this bleak vision with an unprecedented outpouring of support and assistance. Thousands of volunteers mobilized to support the largest domestic relief operation in the history of the Red Cross. During the emergency phase of the response to hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the Red Cross provided 3.8 million overnight stays in Red Cross shelters, served 68 million meals and snacks and provided emergency assistance to nearly 1.4 million households.
“Our response to Katrina really was an important chapter in our history,” commented Mark W. Everson, President and CEO of the American Red Cross. “Since our relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the storm, many of our disaster workers have actively supported the personal recovery efforts of Katrina survivors. In fact, some of our Red Cross colleagues are survivors themselves. Katrina reinforced for this entire organization the importance of our role in our communities across the nation.”
Individuals, families and communities are now focusing on recovery, but it remains clear that the needs far outweigh the resources available from the Red Cross and the entire non-profit sector. Through its Hurricane Recovery Program and participation in the Coordinated Assistance Network, the Red Cross continues to partner with local organizations to provide survivors with the resources they need, including recovery planning, emotional support and information referrals. With hope and dignity, these survivors are rehabilitating their communities and moving forward with their lives.
The progress in the region over the past two years is unmistakable. Yet, the vision of closed schools and businesses, and residents living in trailers outside their still uninhabitable homes persists. The Red Cross encourages everyone to continue to support local Red Cross chapters and other groups that continue to work in these communities. The 2005 storms taught all of us that aggressive action is needed by families, communities and groups such as the Red Cross. The Red Cross has gotten ready for the next big event by tripling its warehouse space, increasing stockpiles of food, cots, and blankets, increasing the number of kitchens and feeding trucks, and positioning satellite communications equipment across the nation. Individuals and families can get ready too by taking three simple steps:
Get a Kit: Build a disaster supplies kit including water, non-perishable food, radio, flashlight and extra batteries for both, a first aid kit, and necessary medications. Store important family documents (wills, passports, insurance policies, deeds, etc.) in a portable, waterproof and fireproof container as part of your kit. Prepare supplies for pets and family members with specific needs.
Make a Plan: Make evacuation and communication plans. Plan ahead for the possibility of becoming separated from your family and friends by choosing an out-of-town contact that each family or household member can call or email should a disaster occur. Plan on using the Red Cross Safe and Well Web Site which can be reached through www.redcross.org.
Be Informed: Talk to your family about the types of disasters that can happen in your community. Follow the directions of emergency officials.
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.
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