Red Cross has record year, 2017 busier than past 4 combined

RALEIGH, NC (Press Release) — 2017 was a year of record-breaking disasters and the American Red Cross mobilized quickly to help people in need, providing more food, relief supplies and shelter stays than all of the last four years combined.

In just 45 days, the Red Cross responded to six of the year’s largest and most complex disasters. This included back-to-back hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate — the deadliest week of wildfires in California history, and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas.

As 2017 comes to a close, the Red Cross is also now responding to devastating and quick-moving wildfires across much of Southern California, opening shelters and providing food, comfort and a safe place for people forced from their homes.

242 LARGE DISASTER RESPONSES IN 2017 In all, the Red Cross mobilized more than 56,000 disaster workers — 92 percent volunteers — to provide help to people affected by 242 significant disasters in 45 states and three territories. This aid included:

  • Opening 1,100 emergency shelters to provide 658,000 overnight stays
  • Serving 13.6 million meals and snacks
  • Distributing 7 million relief items
  • Providing 267,000 health and mental health consultations
  • Supporting 624,000 households with recovery assistance

 Altogether, Red Cross emergency response vehicles traveled 2.5 million miles to deliver food, relief supplies and support to communities affected by disasters during 2017. That’s the equivalent of driving around the earth 103 times.

“If you are part of a disaster, it can be some of the darkest days you will ever experience. This year disasters affected thousands of people and the Red Cross was there to help,” said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross of Eastern NC. “And we continue to need the public’s support to be able to serve those families in need. The Red Cross depends on generous financial donations to fulfill our mission of helping people affected by disasters.”

HOME FIRES THE MOST FREQUENT DISASTER The most frequent type of disaster the Red Cross responded to in 2017 was a fire in someone’s home. The Red Cross responded to nearly 50,000 home fires, and provided casework assistance to help 76,000 families recover.

Here in the Eastern North Carolina Region (53 counties), the Red Cross responded to more than 1,600 families following home fires since January alone. And as the weather gets colder, the organization anticipates an increase in home fires. Red Cross of Eastern NC saw a 39 percent increase in the number of families helped after home fires from October (107 families) to November (149 families).

Through its Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross and thousands of local partners are working to help prevent home fires and save lives by installing smoke alarms, helping families create home fire plans and offering youth education programs. During 2017, more than 382,000 free smoke alarms were installed and 401,000 people were reached through home visits across the country. Since the Campaign launched in 2014, 303 lives have been saved, more than 1 million smoke alarms have been installed, and 940,000 youth have been taught about the importance of fire safety.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross aided millions of people impacted by disasters around the globe in 2017. This included helping nearly 9,400 families search for loved ones who were separated during international conflict or disasters, and sending humanitarian aid to 26 countries to help in the aftermath of disasters. The organization also deployed American responders to disaster zones around the world 27 times this year—including to Nigeria, Mexico, and Bangladesh.

Red Cross volunteers also visited more than 2 million households to encourage families to vaccinate their children against measles in countries like Malawi and Indonesia and helped to save lives by mapping vulnerable communities —using only a computer and internet connection.

 HOW YOU CAN HELP Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, wildfires 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 today. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to its programs and services, which includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.


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