While much of the country’s attention is focused on several tropical storms stirring in the Atlantic and Pacific, thousands of people in Louisiana are still facing unimaginable devastation after historic flooding there. Red Cross disaster teams are activated across the country, helping to provide long-term relief and support services to people impacted by Louisiana’s severe flooding, preparing resources in regions that are at-risk of hurricane and tropical storm activity and responding to everyday disasters, like home fires.
The Red Cross has been on the ground in Louisiana since severe flooding began earlier this month on August 11, and will remain within impacted regions in the weeks and months ahead to help residents on the long road to recovery. Nearly three weeks after the initial deluge began, Red Cross disaster teams continue to provide a safe and dry place to stay overnight, and on Monday, more than 1,600 people sought refuge in 13 Red Cross and community shelters.
In addition to sheltering, Red Cross disaster teams are also circulating impacted neighborhoods to distribute meals, snacks, water and relief supplies, such as insect repellant, cleaning kits and bleach, to people at their homes. Disaster mental health and health services volunteers are providing emotional support and helping to replace things like lost eyeglasses, wheelchairs and medications. Nearly 100 response vehicles are fanning through affected neighborhoods.
Since the flooding began, together with local, state and national partners, the Red Cross has:
- Provided more than 60,000 overnight shelter stays;
- Distributed more than 371,000 relief items;
- Served more than 657,000 meals and snacks;
- Provided more than 21,000 health services and emotional support contacts; and
- Handled more than 29,000 calls from people seeking information and help.
Across the country, volunteers from all 50 states have dropped everything to deploy or virtually volunteer.
To date, the Red Cross has deployed more than 6,300 volunteers to assist in multiple disasters across the country in less than two months, two and half times the number called upon by this point in 2015.
“The Red Cross IS volunteers,” says Brad Kieserman, Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Operations and Logistics. Brad leads disaster operations for the Red Cross and says this is the largest response effort the organization has responded to since Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast more than four years ago. Fiscal year 2017 (which started July 2016) is quickly becoming a banner year for the Red Cross when it comes to deploying volunteers to meet the needs of those affected by disasters. Brad is also quick to point out that last year already required more than triple the number of volunteers than any of the preceding three years before that with more than 24,000 volunteers deployed.