WEATHERING THE STORM: Storm response is one of the many responsibilities of the Eastern N. C. Region of the American Red Cross. The organization had a busy year in 2012, responding to 570 local disasters.

Archived Story

2012 is a busy year for local Red Cross

Published 9:37pm Friday, January 4, 2013

 

Special to the Daily News

Throughout 2012, the Eastern North Carolina Region of the American Red Cross responded to emergencies in its communities and more than 100 disasters across the country.
Home fires continue to be the most common disaster the Red Cross responds to daily. This year, the region has responded to 570 disasters, the majority of which were home fires, and provided immediate emergency assistance, including shelter, food, clothing, supplies and referrals to more than 2,000 residents. From Wilmington to Elizabeth City, the local Red Cross also organized large-scale relief efforts for major disasters that hit our area including floods, tornadoes, tropical storms and hurricanes.
“These disasters affected many people’s lives here in eastern North Carolina,” said Bill Brent, regional CEO for the American Red Cross. “Red Cross workers from both here at home and across the country worked tirelessly to make sure people had a safe place to stay, food to eat and help getting their lives back on track.”
The Red Cross assisted families affected by severe storms and flooding in July, which caused major damage and power outages across eastern North Carolina. The Red Cross launched relief efforts to provide safe shelter, warm meals and supplies to people forced from their homes. Disaster workers served meals and snacks from mobile feeding trucks, and handed out relief items such as cleaning supplies and comfort kits in damaged areas. The Red Cross assisted 90 families in Pitt and Beaufort counties after the storms.
The local Red Cross supported Hurricane Sandy preparation and response throughout eastern North Carolina. Before the storm hit, the Red Cross set up command centers staffed with local Red Cross workers in New Bern and Elizabeth City. Four emergency shelters were opened. They housed 82 residents whose homes were threatened by storm-surge flooding. In eastern North Carolina, 71 local Red Cross workers sheltered, fed and distributed supplies to communities along the coast affected by Sandy. A total of 1,900 meals and snacks were served to local residents in the storm’s wake, along with 45 comfort kits containing hygiene items and 561 cleanup kits.
After local needs were met, the Red Cross shifted volunteers and resources to areas hit the hardest by Sandy including Virginia, New York and New Jersey. To date, 68 eastern North Carolina Red Cross volunteers have deployed to the northeast to assist with the Sandy relief operation. These volunteers were involved with the essential activities of shelter operations, feeding, client casework, distribution of supplies, damage assessment and health and mental-health services. Five emergency vehicles from Red Cross chapters in Elizabeth City, Goldsboro, New Bern, Rocky Mount and Wilmington were driven to the northeast by teams of Red Cross volunteers to help with mobile feeding and bulk distribution of relief supplies.
On Oct. 29, 2012, amidst the treacherous waves and storm surge caused by Sandy, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued 14 people from HMS Bounty, a sailing ship that sank off the coast of Hatteras. Red Cross personnel, in collaboration with the Coast Guard, met with the 14 Bounty survivors to offer comfort and support after the incident. Red Cross disaster workers also provided the individuals with food, clothing and shelter, and they assisted with additional immediate needs to help with their recovery.
Trained Red Cross workers responded not only to disasters in their communities but also volunteered to deploy for weeks at a time to disasters around the country. More than 100 volunteers throughout eastern North Carolina traveled across the U.S. to provide support to people affected by major disasters in 2012, including spring tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest, summer wildfires across the western part of the country, Hurricane Isaac along the Gulf Coast and Sandy in the northeast. These volunteers set up and ran emergency shelters, drove mobile feeding trucks into affected areas, counseled disaster victims, distributed hygiene items and cleanup supplies and, most importantly, provided hope to people who needed it the most.
Throughout 2012, the Red Cross continued to carry out one of its foundational missions of service to the Armed Forces. Across eastern North Carolina, the Red Cross supported 62,000 active-duty military personnel, 167,000 veterans and 10,000 guardsmen/reservists living in the region. The Red Cross responded to more than 1,500 local cases where service members, veterans or their families required emergency services like financial aid, crisis counseling or emergency communications. As the year drew to an end, the Red Cross in eastern North Carolina completed a successful Holiday Mail for Heroes program in which more than 10,000 messages of gratitude and encouragement were collected from the public and shared with service members and veterans throughout the region and abroad.
The region’s Red Cross presence formed July 1, 2012, to create a cohesive service delivery area of 33 counties along the eastern part of North Carolina from the South Carolina to Virginia borders. Nine local Red Cross chapters, that collaborate and share resources, have set up strategic plans to ensure their communities can prepare for and respond to emergencies. In 2013, the regional Red Cross body will increase its response capacity by growing its volunteer work force and offering additional disaster training courses throughout the region. Red Cross disaster teams will continue to work closely with emergency management officials in every county and cultivate key relationships with government officials, businesses and other vital service organizations. The Red Cross looks forward to a new year of opportunities to keep its community safe from disasters, support the armed forces and provide life-saving resources.
The Red Cross thanks everyone who has supported disaster-relief operations this year. Every nine minutes, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in communities across the country. Whether the disaster is a hurricane or a fire in someone’s home, the Red Cross is there.
The Red Cross also provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families — in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world; collects and distributes more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and trains more than 9 million people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills every year.
If you resolve to get more involved with your community and help those in need, consider supporting the American Red Cross by donating your blood, time or money.  To become a volunteer log on to redcross.org to browse volunteer opportunities in your area and complete an online application.  To donate blood, log onto redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment. To make a financial donation, visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter, 135 N. Market St., Washington, 27889, 252-946-4110.

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