MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – In a year that had deadly tornadoes, fierce wildfires and destructive floods in many states, Tennessee responded to 932 disasters in the region in 2013, according to data released Monday.
Of those, 146 were part of large disaster relief efforts led by the American Red Cross in 42 states and territories during that same time period.
“This year, the Red Cross continued to serve the people of middle and west Tennessee through the dedicated work of its staff and volunteers,” said Mike Cowles, chapter executive of the Tennessee Volunteer Region. “(It) was a busy year, and we are so very thankful for everyone who supported our efforts to help those in need.”
Here at home, the Tennessee Volunteer Region has 3,731 volunteers and 41 Disaster Action Teams, made up of volunteers who are on call 24/7 to respond to disasters across 62 counties in middle and west Tennessee.
The agency also has 412 active emergency shelter agreements with schools, churches, community centers and other facilities to help provide emergency lodging after a large disaster such as a tornado, flood or severe storm.
The local region has also trained 3,463 volunteers this year who have worked 213,610 hours for an estimated value of $4.73 million, which is calculated as an in-kind donation of labor.
The Red Cross Service to Armed Forces division has facilitated 3,695 briefings for military members and their families before and after they are deployed, and it has also delivered 1,593 emergency communication messages to service members over the past year.
In April, flooding struck 10,000 homes in 10 counties in Illinois. More than a thousand Red Cross volunteers provided shelter and food to displaced families and delivered relief supplies to those returning to waterlogged homes.
Nationally, the Red Cross responded to various disasters throughout the Midwest.
In September, almost a half-year’s worth of rain fell in just three days across several counties in and around Boulder, Colo. Volunteer with the organization responded and served more than 204,000 meals and snacks, handed out more than 249,000 relief items, and provided about 15,000 health and mental health contacts.
The Red Cross also provided a total of 3,800 shelter stays for people forced from their homes by the flooding.
Tornadoes and severe storms
Earlier in the year, the largest and most deadly tornado outbreak came in Oklahoma when a series of tornadoes ripped through the state. Red Cross workers were there in May to comfort the survivors, including the community of Moore, Okla., where two elementary schools were struck by a deadly EF-4 tornado.
More than six months later, the Red Cross continues to help residents through long-term recovery centers and other community programs.
In addition, Mississippi was hit particularly hard by severe spring storms for the third year in a row, including a tornado that severely damaged the Red Cross building in Hattiesburg in February.
Again in April, the Red Cross was there, opening shelters, providing food and water, and helping survivors recover.
In November, dozens of tornadoes cut a path of destruction through the Midwest, damaging more than 1,000 homes and leaving hundreds of thousands without power during a cold snap.
When wildfires threatened communities, the Red Cross offered evacuees a safe place to stay and supported first responders.
In total, the organization mobilized more than 2,000 workers to support 10 large wildfire responses in eight states during 2013, such as Colorado, Arizona, California and New Mexico.
It is not just the high-profile disasters that left thousands of people in need this year.
The Red Cross also responded to more than 52,000 home fires across America, helping 226,000 people get back on their feet.
For those who have suffered a home fire, the event can be just as devastating as the high profile disasters that get a large amount of national attention. Regardless of the size of the event, the Red Cross responds in the same way – with shelter, food and emotional support.
In 2013, the American Red Cross assisted an estimated 1.3 million people affected by disasters in 24 countries outside of the U.S. These included storms and floods in the Philippines, Argentina, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
Red Cross workers continue to respond to the ongoing humanitarian need created by the civil unrest in Syria, as well as needs caused by conflicts in other areas around the world.
The Red Cross responded to food insecurity issues in Malawi and Zimbabwe and continued our earthquake recovery work in Haiti that has been ongoing since 2010.
Additionally, the nonprofit organization continued its vital work in reconnecting families separated by conflict and disaster, reconnecting 886 families this year alone.
For more information about the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org.
-- Marie Kemph, firstname.lastname@example.org