How the Red Cross Is Using Donations to Help Sandy Victims

Author: Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross published in The Daily Beast

The American Red Cross has received widespread support after Superstorm Sandy, and along with those contributions have come questions—including in stories that have run on The Daily Beast—about how those donations are being put to use, and what we’re going to do with the remaining funds. These are legitimate questions, and the Red Cross is committed to transparency and welcomes this opportunity to answer them.

RED CROSS

People receive free food from the American Red Cross in the heavily damaged Rockaway neighborhood in Queens, N.Y. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

In my more than four-and-a-half years at the Red Cross, I’ve been no stranger to disasters, whether tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes. But what struck me was the massiveness of Sandy’s fury, the miles and miles of devastation that just seemed endless.

The destruction wrought by Sandy also had a personal element for me: I grew up and spent most of my life in the New York/New Jersey area, and my heart goes out to all those affected by the storm. While I have been to the impacted areas several times since Sandy hit, I will never get used to looking into the eyes of someone who lost everything. At the same time, I am also struck by the determination of these individuals to start over, rebuild, and power through their loss.

 

So how exactly are we helping them? While the American Red Cross is a grassroots network of local chapters and volunteers, the sheer size of Sandy required us to bring people and resources from all over the country to help our chapters in New York and New Jersey. Over the past seven weeks, we have mobilized more than 15,800 trained workers, 90 percent of whom are volunteers. We have also worked closely with other nonprofit and government partners, because a disaster this size is too big for any one organization to handle.

This is the biggest U.S. response we have mounted in over five years. Even before Sandy hit, we opened shelters across multiple states, and we have been providing help every day since. So far, we have:

• Served more than 8.9 million meals and snacks.

• Handed out more than 6.7 million relief items such as cold-weather items and clean-up supplies.

• Provided more than 103,000 health services and emotional-support contacts for people living in very tough conditions.

• Supplied more than 81,000 shelter stays, more than half of the total number of Sandy shelter stays (158,000) provided by a range of groups.

And we still have much more work to do.

Of the $202 million in donations and pledges we have received to date, we believe that approximately $110 million of that will be spent on our emergency-relief operations by the end of December. Remaining Sandy-related donations will be used by the Red Cross to meet longer-term needs—what we call “recovery”—of people affected by this disaster.

Our initial recovery efforts are expected to cost at least $60 million; any remaining funds will be allocated to additional long-term efforts. We have developed a recovery plan by working closely with other nonprofits and government agencies—including FEMA—to coordinate efforts and identify unmet needs.

While I have been to the impacted areas several times since Sandy hit, I will never get used to looking into the eyes of someone who lost everything.

Our federal government partners have requested that we focus our assistance first on three groups of people who have already been identified as needing aid:

• People in New York and New Jersey whose homes were destroyed and are in need of either repair assistance or longer-term rental housing;

• People whose homes were destroyed in states which did not receive federal disaster money;

• People with demonstrated needs that exceed what can be met by insurance, FEMA, and state resources.

This means that part of our efforts over the next several months will involve one-on-one work helping those who have trouble finding assistance on their own. These are the types of activities a survivor doesn’t want to go through alone, and we can provide the expertise, as well as a shoulder to lean on during the process. That includes helping people fill out insurance paperwork, identify child-care resources, find new housing, and connect with social services in their communities.

In addition, we also will be supporting projects and programs of other nonprofit groups in the New York and New Jersey area, such as working with several local food banks to help Sandy survivors have access to food during the new year.

It is the generous support of so many people and businesses across the country have enabled us to bring help and hope to tens of thousands of people impacted by Sandy. We are committed to being good stewards of these contributions entrusted to us—and we will be there for the survivors of this devastating storm as they fight for their future

American Red Cross Issues One-Month Progress Report on Response to Superstorm Sandy

http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/314293_10151284358420071_1656194686_n.jpg

WASHINGTON, Monday, December 3, 2012 — The American Red Cross today issued a progress report on its efforts over the past month to provide food, water, shelter, relief supplies, healthcare and other assistance to people affected by Superstorm Sandy.

 “During this first month, the Red Cross has provided emergency relief to many people affected by Superstorm Sandy. But there is still much work to be done, and we will continue to provide help and hope for weeks and months to come,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “This is our biggest U.S. disaster response in more than five years, and we are incredibly grateful for the generous support across the country that has enabled us to help the survivors of this storm.”

Hurricane Sandy was a major storm that impacted an area the size of Europe. The Red Cross mobilized more than 14,400 trained disaster workers to date – 90 percent of them volunteers – to help people affected by the storm. Today, nearly 3,000 workers are still on the job, providing food, water, shelter and relief supplies. The Red Cross has also deployed more than 300 of its emergency response vehicles and is also utilizing rental cars, trucks and other vehicles to help.

SHELTER, FOOD AND RELIEF ITEMS In the first month since Sandy hit, the Red Cross provided almost 79,000 shelter stays for Sandy, part of an overall shelter response that provided more than 153,000 shelter stays. The Red Cross has also:

  • Provided more than 7.4 million meals and snacks through its partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention to people affected by Sandy in New York and New Jersey.
  • Distributed more than 5.2 million relief items including cold weather items like coats and blankets and supplies to help people as they begin the massive clean-up of their neighborhoods.
  • Provided more than 86,000 health services and mental health contacts for people who have been living in very tough conditions.

The Red Cross response dealt with the unusual cold weather hurricane. Sandy was followed by a nor’easter that dumped snow and brought frigid temperatures to people struggling without power, and the Red Cross supplies included more Red Cross blankets, gloves and hand-warmers.

LOOKING AHEAD The Red Cross has raised nearly $170 million to date for Sandy and estimates that it will spend $110 million on the emergency relief through the end of December. Any funds donated for Sandy beyond what is needed for emergency relief will be put to use serving the long-term needs of those affected by this disaster. The Red Cross is already working with communities to determine unmet needs and how they can be met—something which will continue into the recovery process.

The Red Cross is developing specific plans that will in­clude a comprehensive needs assessment of the affected com­munities and individuals; plans that will identify resources available from both the Red Cross and other organizations. Recognizing that each community will have different needs, and different groups working to meet them, the role of the Red Cross will be determined by these local needs. What’s crucial is that there is community collaboration and cooperation to ensure that longer-term help reaches people who need it.

 

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 redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

American Red Cross Helping Haiti Recover and Rebuild at Two-Year Anniversary of Earthquake

The Red Cross to date has spent and signed agreements to spend $330 million on Haiti earthquake relief and recovery efforts

Two years after the Haiti earthquake, the American Red Cross is helping people rebuild their homes and their lives and improving communities with health, water and sanitation projects.

In a two-year update, the American Red Cross highlighted its emergency work after the 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, as well as its recovery efforts over the past year. Recovery activities have included building homes, giving people opportunities to earn money, providing access to clean water and sanitation systems, supporting the delivery of health care, and teaching communities how to prevent the spread of diseases and be better prepared for future disasters.

“The money donated to the American Red Cross provided life-saving relief to millions of Haitians after the earthquake and is now being used for longer-term solutions such as helping people move from camps to permanent homes and communities,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross.

“Although progress is not as fast as we would like, recovery is well underway,” McGovern said, adding “for example, the pace of home construction has increased rapidly, with the American Red Cross and the rest of the global Red Cross network providing housing to more than 100,000 people at the two-year mark.”

Other highlights of the past year include: 

  • Providing clean water and sanitation services to more than 369,000 people
  • Providing health services and hygiene education to more than 2.4 million people
  • Reaching more than 3 million people with cholera treatment and prevention
  • Teaching more than 436,000 people how to better prepare for disasters
  • Providing livelihoods assistance – grants, jobs and other help – to 114,000 people

 The American Red Cross received about $486 million in donations following the earthquake, and has spent and signed agreements to spend $330 million on Haiti earthquake relief and recovery efforts in the first two years. The largest portion of spending has gone to food and emergency services, followed by housing, water and sanitation, health, livelihoods, disaster preparedness, and response to the cholera outbreak.

“In the coming year, the American Red Cross will focus on programs to renew communities, which include constructing and repairing homes, providing clean water and sanitation, health education, livelihood support and disaster preparedness programming,” McGovern said. “We also continue to support hospitals and clinics that are critical to providing access to needed medical treatment in Haiti, and we will maintain our efforts to combat cholera and teach people how to prevent diseases.”

Housing is a priority, and the American Red Cross is shifting its focus from providing transitional homes to building permanent homes and repairing damaged homes so people can return to their former neighborhoods.

Further information on Red Cross work in Haiti, including a copy of the two-year report, can be found at redcross.org/Haiti.

 About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

 

Red Cross Begins Large Relief Operation

Urges People To Listen To Local Evacuation Orders

Editorial note: Call (202) 303-5551 to speak with an American Red Cross spokesperson on the groundVisit the Red Cross Disaster Online Newsroom for hurricane preparedness and response information, including photos, video and press releases.

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles are staging near Raleigh NC before Hurricane Irene's expected landfall. ERV crews stocked up Thursday with bottled water and snacks at a local warehouse store.

The American Red Cross has launched a major relief operation all along the eastern seaboard to help people in the path of Hurricane Irene. More than 13,000 people spent Friday night in hundreds of shelters opened across several states. Many more shelters are set to open throughout the weekend as the storm moves to the north.

 “We are putting the full force of the Red Cross behind our response,” said Gail McGovern, Red Cross President and CEO. People need to listen to local authorities and evacuate if told to do so. Many areas could be inaccessible after the storm and first responders won’t be able to get in right away or offer services. People need to leave when told and plan on caring for their loved ones for at least 72 hours.”

Thousands of Red Cross disaster workers are helping people fromNorth CarolinatoNew England. More than 200 emergency response vehicles have been mobilized, and tens of thousands of prepackaged meals moved into the area. Volunteers from partner organizations like AmeriCorps NCCC and the Southern Baptist Convention are working alongside Red Cross volunteers in some areas.

People trying to find a shelter should listen to their local media for shelter locations near them. They can also locate a shelter at www.redcross.org, or by downloading the free Red Cross shelter app on iTunes. Those affected by the storm can let friends and family know where they are by registering on the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org. They can also call a family member or friend with internet access and ask them to do their registration.

Those heading to shelters should bring extra clothing, pillows, blankets, medications, personal hygiene items and important documents. They should remember special items for children infants such as diapers, formulas and toys, along with necessary items for family members who are elderly or disabled. People should not leave their pets behind, but the Red Cross cannot accept pets in its shelters except for service animals for people with disabilities. People should check if organizations are setting up animal shelters. Red Cross chapters have lists of pet-friendly hotels, kennels, veterinarians and animal welfare agencies that can accept pets during a disaster. It’s important to make sure pets are wearing secure collars with up-to-date identification.

Irene has forced the cancellation of dozens of blood collections along the East Coast. The Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by this storm and asks that people in the affected areas consider donating blood once the storm passes through and it’s safe to do so.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

If someone would like to help, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. They can also send contributions to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross,P.O. Box 37243,Washington,DC20013.

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Red Cross Opening Shelters, Mobilizing Equipment

Residents urged to heed evacuation orders.

Hurricane Irene is headed toward the East Coast and the American Red Cross is mobilizing disaster workers and equipment along much of the eastern seaboard to help those in the path of this powerful storm.

Hurricane Irene is predicted to be the largest storm to hit the East Coast in more than 70 years, and could threaten several big population centers. A hurricane watch has been issued for theNorth Carolinacoast and the Red Cross has opened shelters in the state as evacuation orders go into effect. In addition, more than 200 Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles are heading towards the coast to help people in the path of the storm.

“The Red Cross is moving volunteers, vehicles and supplies, getting ready for a response effort that spans nearly the entire East Coast,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “While we’re getting ready at the Red Cross, we want everyone in the storm’s path to get ready as well by getting a disaster kit, making a family emergency plan, and listening to local officials regarding evacuations.”

Dozens of shelters are being prepared all along the East Coast. People can find open Red Cross shelters by viewing an interactive Google map at www.redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross shelter app for their iPhone from the iTunes store. A mobile-friendly version of the Hurricane Safety Checklist is now available for smart phone users to download at www.redcross.org/mobile.

It’s important that those affected by the storm stay in contact with loved ones and the Red Cross Safe and Well website can help them do that. Safe and Well is a secure, easy-to-use online tool to help families connect in an emergency. People can register by visiting the Red Cross web site or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).    

A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions could be a threat within 48 hours. An upgrade to a hurricane warning will mean hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Those in the affected area should finish their storm preparations and evacuate if authorities ask them to do so.

Hurricane Irene has caused significant damage in the southern Bahamasand the Bahamas Red Cross is managing shelters and helping people displaced by the storm. A regional disaster management expert is headed to theBahamastoday to assist with disaster assessment and response. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers as flooding, damage to homes and impassable roads are left in the storm’s wake. The United Nations is reporting hundreds of homes have been damaged and it is difficult to communicate with many localities.

In addition, Irene could affect blood collections along the East Coast at a time when the nation’s blood supply is already low. The Red Cross is urging those who are eligible to give blood prior to the storm’s arrival. Donating blood now, before the storm, will help ensure blood is available in the aftermath of Irene should conditions prohibit people from traveling to blood collections.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at www.redcrossblood.org.

Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) members support Red Cross disaster efforts by pledging donations to the Red Cross in advance of major disasters to ensure an immediate response to help people affected. ADGP members responsible for these generous donations include 3M, Altria Group, Aon, Caterpillar, Cisco Foundation , ConAgra Foods , Costco Wholesale Corporation, Darden Restaurants, Inc., Dr Pepper Snapple Group , FedEx Corporation, GE Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation , John Deere Foundation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kraft Foods, Lowe’s Companies, Inc., Merck, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, Northrop Grumman, Optum, Ryder Charitable Foundation, Southwest Airlines, State Farm, State Street Foundation, Target, The TJX Companies, Inc., UnitedHealthcare, UPS and Walmart.

American Red Cross disaster preparedness starts long before a hurricane makes landfall, beginning with keeping supplies and equipment on stand-by all year to help people in need. On average, the Red Cross spends about $450 million on disaster relief every year. If someone would like to support Red Cross disaster efforts, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or sending contributions to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Gail McGovern: Latest Visit to Haiti

Editor’s note: On July 21 and 22, American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern traveled to Port-au-Prince, her fifth visit to Haiti since last year’s devastating earthquake. Here are some observations from the trip.

Every time I make a trip to Haiti, it looks a little bit better. On this visit, I’ve sensed a real feeling of optimism. There’s a returning sense of normalcy, less rubble, and signs of rebuilding. I also saw fewer people in the camps, and the numbers bear it out. People are moving from under tarps, into homes and getting on with their lives.

What the American Red Cross is doing in Haiti is very much in the spirit of building back better.

On Friday I attended a meeting of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. President Martelly was at that meeting, and shared with us the details of his 100-day plan. Among other things, it focuses on systematic ways to move people out of six camps and into neighborhoods. The plan seems reasonable and feasible, and I was certainly impressed with the presentation.

The American Red Cross and our partners in the Red Cross network have decided to allocate funds to relocate about 900 families from one of the makeshift camps, as part of the 100-day plan. We’ll do this through a combination of new home construction, repair of damaged homes and economic support to renters.

What the American Red Cross is doing in Haiti is very much in the spirit of building back better. The global Red Cross network has also committed to helping 30,000 families transition out of camps and into safer homes. That work is well underway, and more than 12,000 families have been helped. Semi-permanent houses are going up and there are smiles on the faces of recipients. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

The next step in our housing strategy is more ambitious. We’re planning on repairing and potentially building permanent homes. In fact, one of our stops on this trip was at a housing exposition in Port-au-Prince. President Martelly and Bill Clinton – who’s co-chair of the recovery commission – attended the expo as well. About 60 different construction companies were there showing their designs. We’re putting together a request for proposals to evaluate which options are best for us.

Building permanent communities will be harder, and will take longer. It will involve not just the homes themselves, but a whole series of interconnected services, from water and sanitation to roads. We’re talking about a massive urban renewal program that’s going to take years to complete. Our hope to create sustainable change in Haiti.

When I look at the Haitians, I see people who are hopeful, optimistic and resilient. They’re industrious and entrepreneurial. But Haiti is a challenging place too. It’s going to be complex to get all this done in an equitable way. Despite the challenges, I truly do have a feeling of optimism.

First Person Singular: American Red Cross President Gail McGovern

By Robin Rose Parker, Published: May 4 

Rebecca Drobis/ - Gail McGovern, 59, of Washington is president and chief executive of the American Red Cross.

The very first report that I had to write was in fourth grade, and I really wanted to write about a woman. The only women I could find to write about were Madame Curie, Florence Nightingale or Clara Barton. And so I actually wrote my very first report about the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton. So I kind of feel like there was some weird connection. In my office I have an original photograph that Clara Barton sat for, and I come in in the morning, I look at her and I think to myself, I want you to be proud of me.

The most amazing part of the job is the outpouring of generosity when people need help. It’s restored my faith in the human race. I see how generous Americans are — with their time, with their hard-earned dollars; they literally donate blood to us. I get letters from kids with donations; I got a note from a young boy, with a crumpled-up dollar bill, telling me it was from the tooth fairy and could I give it to the people of Haiti? I’ve just been so privileged to see this side of our country.

During Hurricane Ike [in 2008], I was in an emergency response vehicle. I didn’t tell people that I was the president and CEO of the American Red Cross. I just put on a T-shirt, threw on a pair of khaki pants and for about 2 1 / 2 hours, I was on that vehicle just dishing out chili. Right after that was over, I had to catch a flight back to Washington, D.C., and because I didn’t want to leave the volunteers, I didn’t have time to stop by the hotel room, and quite frankly I stunk. I smelled like chili and onions and body odor. My hair was plastered down to my head. I caught a glimpse of myself in the airport ladies’ room, and even my makeup had just sort of run down my face, so I looked sort of like a raccoon. I got on that plane, and I was in the last seat, center seat, and so I had to walk by all of these people, smelling to high heavens. All I could think of was, Oh, my God, they’re gonna evacuate the plane! I’m walking down this aisle thinking people are going to start gagging, and instead people were reaching out and touching my sweaty arm and saying thank you, ’cause I still had the Red Cross T-shirt on. They were saying, “Thank you for helping our city. Thank you. Thank you.” This followed me, literally, all the way home. The cab driver commented. The doorman at my condominium turned to me and said, “Mrs. McGovern, thank you for serving our country.” I have never been so proud to be part of an organization in my entire life.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers