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Fires and Floods Lead the List of Largest Red Cross Disaster Responses


In a year predicted to be heavy with hurricanes, home fires, wildfires and flooding kept the Red Cross busy helping people whose lives were changed by disasters. Excessive rain in some portions of the country, severe drought in other areas and a lack of major hurricanes changed the traditional disaster response landscape for the American Red Cross in a year that called for more than 230 large scale disaster responses.

While the California Wildfires and major flooding captured public attention, the majority of disaster relief operations were coordinated by Red Cross chapters responding locally to more than 70,000 community disasters, most of which were home fires. In fact, home fires account for approximately 93 percent of all Red Cross disaster responses in 2007, and that category leads the compilation of the five largest disasters.

The top five American Red Cross disaster responses for 2007 are:

* Home Fires – single family, multiple-family fires (continually)
* Southern California Wildfires (October 2007)
* North Texas and Midwest Floods (Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, June 2007)
* New England Nor’easter (New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, April 2007)
* Midwest floods (Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, August 2007)

This ranking was calculated based on the number of families served by the Red Cross, the aggregate amount of services provided (including food and shelter) and the cost to the Red Cross.

“While the hurricane season proved to be less eventful than normal, this year showed that disasters can strike anywhere around the nation, not just coastal communities,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president, disaster response. “That’s why it’s important for families and individuals to have a disaster plan, no matter where you live and even if you think you are not vulnerable to a disaster.”

Red Cross disaster relief services are delivered through the efforts of more than 700 local Red Cross chapters and often include providing disaster survivors with food, shelter, emotional support, basic first aid, and clean up supplies. While the top five disasters were the largest and most costly for the Red Cross, disaster workers were also on scene at other notable events this year. Mental health workers provided comfort during the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Disaster workers were in place during tornadoes in Lady Lake, Florida, Enterprise, Alabama and Greensburg, Kansas. And, the American Red Cross provided aid during international disasters such as the Mexico floods, Peru earthquake and Hurricane Dean.

You can learn how to prepare yourself and your loved ones for a disaster by visiting Here you will find an interactive online presentation that will show how you can Be Red Cross Ready by getting a disaster supplies kit, making a plan should disaster strike, and remaining informed before and during a disaster.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 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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