For the second consecutive year, record-breaking wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters left millions of people from coast to coast in desperate need of help. Time and again, families turned to the American Red Cross, and we were there to provide shelter, food, comfort and hope.
In 2018, massive wildfires scorched more than 8.5 million acres of earth. In California alone, residents suffered back-to-back years of the most destructive wildfires in state history, with this year’s Camp Fire being the most severe. What’s more, six major hurricanes impacted the United States in just three months, devastating communities across nine states and U.S. territories. Red Cross volunteers also provided crisis counseling and other support to communities affected by six tragic shootings, including those in Parkland, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Thousand Oaks, California.
During this record-breaking year, volunteer disaster workers from the Eastern New York Region deployed 193 times, supporting 26 different large-scale disaster relief operations across the country, including Hurricanes Florence and Michael in the Southeast U.S., Typhoon Yutu in the Northern Mariana Islands, and the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California. Amazing as it may seem, this exceeds the record set in 2017, when we deployed local volunteers 166 times to respond to disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
We sat down with just a few of the local Red Cross workers who answered the call to deploy this year, and asked them to reflect on their experiences. Watch this 5-minute video to hear about where they went, what they did, and how their deployments will stay with them for years to come…
With each large disaster that struck this year, local Red Cross volunteers proved their dedication.
It’s amazing to look back and realize that in one year, we deployed disaster workers to fill almost 200 roles, on more than two dozen different relief operations, with many volunteers deploying multiple times. I am deeply grateful to work alongside such passionate and selfless people, who willingly leave their homes and loved ones to deliver care and comfort to others when they need it most.Gary Striar, Regional CEO
In the face of this year’s record-breaking disasters, the Red Cross mobilized more than 14,000 disaster workers in total — 90 percent volunteers — who helped people across the country by:
- Serving more than 8.2 million meals and snacks with the help of community partners
- Distributing more than 2.2 million relief items
- Providing more than 290,000 overnight shelter stays in coordination with community partners
- Making more than 188,000 health and mental health contacts to provide support and care to disaster victims
Nationwide, the Red Cross also provided recovery support for tens of thousands of households rebuilding their lives—whether it was connecting them with community resources, helping them create recovery plans or providing financial assistance for those severely affected.
And locally, Red Cross volunteers worked tirelessly to help their neighbors in 2018, responding to 472 local disasters — mostly home fires — and providing relief in the wake of four large emergencies, including January’s ice jams and floods in the North Country, as well as the tragic Schoharie limousine accident in October.
As 2018 draws to close, and we look back on all the ways we were able to help in the face of record-breaking disasters for a second consecutive year, we know that none of it would be possible without the power of our volunteers or the generosity of our donors. You can take action to help people affected by disasters like wildfires, storms and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Please consider making a donation before the year ends. Visit redcross.org to give now.