Red Cross responds to disasters locally and across the country

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 31, 2020- Disasters do not stop. Regardless of weather, time of year or even a pandemic, disasters do not pause and consider what else is occurring before affecting lives.

While disasters do not stop, neither does the American Red Cross in responding to disasters and assisting residents affected.

As if a pandemic wasn’t a large enough concern, the 2020 disaster season has been very active, with the Red Cross currently responding to the California wildfires and to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Laura.

In the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts in California, Louisiana and Texas, the Red Cross has deployed more than 1,900 trained disasters workers, including 24 from the Northern Ohio Region, to help the more than 25,800 affected residents by providing emergency lodging and along with partner organizations, have provided more than 47,000 meals and snacks.

Homes destroyed by Hurricane Laura in Cameron Parish, LA, one of the hardest hit areas, on Sunday, August 30, 2020.

In Texas and Louisiana, the Red Cross is working with the World Central Kitchen, an organization founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, the Salvation Army and the Southern Baptist Convention to set up kitchens, which are able to serve tens of thousands of meals each day.

Along with deploying across the country, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio remains active back home assisting residents following local disasters, such as home fires.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 38 adults, 12 children and provided more than $10,500 in financial assistance for lodging and other necessities following disasters in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Harrison, Lucas, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties.

To date during Fiscal Year 2021, which began on July 1, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 463 adults, 302 children and has provided $162,995 in immediate financial assistance.

Carol Miller of the American Red Cross speaks with David Suarez after giving him a case of water, in an area that was badly damaged by Hurricane Laura in Westlake, LA

COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission, and we are still providing the same types of support as we always have.

To help keep people safe, we are following guidance from CDC and public health authorities — and have put in place additional precautions. Some of these plans include social distancing protocols, face coverings, health screenings, and opening additional shelters that can support fewer people than normal so that we can ensure social distancing protocols.

Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency operations plans.

The Red Cross is in need of healthy individuals who want to assist their local communities and respond to disasters. For more information and to see high-demand volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Unable to deploy? You can still make a difference in the lives of people impacted by disasters. Visit redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS to make a donation.

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance.

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