Red Cross costs for Hurricane Irene response

Published 8:42 am Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane Irene caused devastating flooding and wind damage in communities from North Carolina to New England, and thousands of people have turned to the American Red Cross for help.
Red Cross has disaster operations in more than a dozen states, and the organization said its costs are growing by the hour as it helps those in need. Red Cross officials said their current best estimate is that the cost of Red Cross relief services for Hurricane Irene could be $10 million to $15 million.
Officials said the organization hasn’t raised anywhere near the $10 million or $15 million yet, but they said the public has always come through for when Americans need help
The Red Cross efforts began well before the hurricane made landfall as the organization opened shelters and mobilized staff and support. Now the group is providing shelter, food, emotional support and other needed assistance after this hurricane.
Since Friday, Aug. 26, the Red Cross has provided about 52,000 overnight shelter stays, officials said. Nine kitchens, capable of serving a total of more than 100,000 hot meals each day, are operating or being set up in North Carolina, Virginia and New York. The Red Cross has mobilized approximately 260 feeding vehicles to support recovery efforts – every emergency response vehicle east of the Rocky Mountains is part of the Irene response.
The Red Cross is shipping thousands of relief items like clean-up kits, rakes, ice chests and tarps to North Carolina, New York and key areas in New England to help people cleaning up their homes. The organization has mobilized more than 4,000 people including staff and volunteers to help.
Officials said the Red Cross spends an average of $450 million a year on disaster relief throughout the United States and around the world. This includes sheltering, feeding and relief supplies for approximately 70,000 disasters every year, which range from a house fire involving one family to other disasters like floods involving numerous families. Major disasters that impact entire communities – like Hurricane Irene – add to the total costs of disaster response.
Officials said donations to American Red Cross Relief ensure that no matter where a disaster happens, the Red Cross can respond without delay. Unrestricted gifts are preferred because these donations make it possible for the Red Cross to help people before and after any disaster – such as a wildfire, flooding, tornado or hurricane – no matter when or where it happens.
For more information, contact the Polk County chapter of the American Red Cross at 828-894-2700.
– article submitted by Karen Hannon, Red Cross community development director for McDowell, Rutherford and Polk counties

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