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American Red Cross—June 11, 2013
In response to an inquiry from CBS11 Investigative Reporter, Mireya Villarreal, the American Red Cross has compiled the following information. Summary: The Red Cross relies on financial donations to help disaster victims, anywhere, anytime. Donations allow the Red Cross to provide shelter to people who have lost everything, deliver food and relief supplies from response vehicles driving through neighborhoods, and to have trained mental health workers available. They allow Red Cross caseworkers to meet oneon-one with families to help develop individualized recovery plans and provide additional assistance to help people get back on their feet — and enable us to support long-term community recovery activities. Donations also are used to support the vehicles, warehouses and people that make our relief possible. The American Red Cross responds to an average of 70,000 disasters each year in the United States, spending an estimated $345 million each year preparing for and responding across the country. In Texas alone, Red Cross relief workers respond to an average of 4,300 disasters each year – ranging from large disasters such as wildfires, tornadoes, floods, explosions and hurricanes, to apartment fires and individual home fires. Just in the past two months alone, the Red Cross has responded to tornadoes, floods, explosions and fires in Texas. This document focuses on only five Texas disasters out of the thousands we respond to each year. The Red Cross spent an estimated $2.4 million and raised $2 million in designated donations combined for four of the largest disasters affecting Texans over the past two years. The four largest disasters in this total are the Granbury and Cleburne tornado outbreak in May 2013, the explosion in West in April 2013, the Possum Kingdom wildfires in April 2011 and the Bastrop wildfires in September 2011. It’s important to note that because the Red Cross is still involved with helping the communities of Granbury, Cleburne, West and Bastrop (and surrounding areas) recover, our cost figures for these disasters are still estimates until all of our work is completed and the bills are officially tallied. It’s possible that our costs for these operations could go up. The Red Cross also responded to a Dallas-Ft. Worth tornado outbreak in 2012 but the figures are not included in the above totals. We spent $205,000 on this response, but did not receive or solicit any designated donations specifically for that disaster. Instead, donations for overall disaster relief paid for this response.
Disaster Relief Donations: Financial contributions to Red Cross Disaster Relief allow us to serve victims of nearly 70,000 disasters, anywhere, anytime. Every 8 minutes, the American Red Cross helps a family affected by a home fire or other disaster like a tornado or flood – each one devastating to the people involved. While big, well-publicized wildfires and hurricanes often bring millions into the Red Cross, small and medium-sized disasters often do not. The Red Cross encourage donations to Disaster Relief because undesignated donations allow us to help disaster victims, anywhere, anytime. Designated Donations: Less than a handful of disasters each year in Texas receive enough media coverage to spark the public to designate funds to that particular disaster. Donations designated for a specific disaster are the first dollars used for that disaster. On rare occasions, if there are funds remaining, they will be used to serve people affected by other disasters. This has been Red Cross donor policy for a number of years. Relief Services: The Red Cross is a part of local Texas communities before, during and after disasters. That is the case yesterday, today, tomorrow and will continue well into the future. This local presence means that the Red Cross can spring into immediate action when an emergency occurs, such as a fertilizer plant blowing up or an EF-4 tornado ripping through a small town. Our first priority is to get people the help they need. Shelters are opened. Red Cross relief vehicles make their way up and down streets for days handing out food and relief items. Red Cross health and mental health workers canvass neighborhoods checking on the well-being of residents. Next, we help families get back on their feet, which takes more time and is less visible than shelters and food trucks. For example, Red Cross workers meet one-on-one with families to connect them to social service programs and housing solutions. We help people fill out important paperwork or find child care resources. This support involves going family to family assessing needs and identifying solutions - and this takes time. It’s also not as easy to see this type of service, but it’s just as critical to the recovery of both the families and the community. If anyone impacted by the recent disasters still needs help, contact us at 1-800-RED CROSS. For locations that don’t have a permanent Red Cross office, such as in West, Texas, the American Red Cross established a temporary headquarters at the First United Methodist Church in West, Texas and operated from that facility for more than three consecutive weeks. Today, Red Cross services remain available at the Long Term Recovery Center in West, 218 N. Main, West, Texas 76691, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or the Red Cross office in Waco at 254523-4985. Long Term Recovery: It only takes minutes for a tornado to wipe out a town, but it takes years to put that town back together. After large-scale disasters, affected families could have needs for years to come. To help recovery efforts, long-term planning groups come together to identify any unmet disaster needs. These groups can be made up of dozens of non-profit groups, government
agencies, churches and schools. This collaborative effort helps identify what people need and what resources are available and can continue for months, or sometimes years. The Red Cross is an active participant in long-term recovery after most large disasters. Longterm recovery needs are different for each disaster and it’s too early to know what role the Red Cross will play for the recent tornado outbreak and the explosion. As an example, the Red Cross has provided recovery support after other disasters by helping with lingering health needs, replacing durable medical equipment, minor home repairs or replacing appliances. Recent large disasters in Texas are all at different points in the long-term recovery process and Red Cross involvement also varies. Accountability: An average of .91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs like providing disaster relief. Donations are used to provide food, shelter, emotional support, relief items and other assistance, as well as the vehicles, warehouses and people that make relief possible. The Red Cross only use a small slice of every dollar to support general operations to keep the Red Cross running such as information technology, fundraising, finance, HR and communications. The Red Cross compares favorably with other nonprofits and is accredited by the Better Business Bureaus (BBB) and has a 3-star rating with Charity Navigator. One of the BBB’s standards for accountability is that a charity should spend at least 65 percent of total expenses on program activities. The Red Cross vastly outperforms on this measure. We encourage donors to review our rankings with watchdog organizations and view our audited financial reports on redcross.org.
Red Cross Services, Costs and Funds Raised Figures
North Texas Tornadoes 2013: This disaster is less than 30 days old. Cost figures for this operation are still estimates until all of our work is completed and the bills are officially tallied. Statistics below represent activities to date. Services Shelters Opened People Registered at Shelters Meals/Snacks Served Relief Items Health/Mental Health Contacts Statistics 3 88 29,938 10,344 1,076
The Red Cross spent an estimated $520,000 to help people affected by the tornado outbreak and received more than $5,000 in designated donations so far. The Red Cross received an additional $118,000 in donations for disaster relief from Texans in the days immediately following these tornadoes.
West, Texas Explosion 2013: This disaster is less than 60 days old. Cost figures for this operation are still estimates until all of our work is completed and the bills are officially tallied. Statistics below represent activities to date. Services Shelters Opened People Registered at Shelters Meals/Snacks Served Relief Items Health/Mental Health Contacts Statistics 1 0 48,983 19,153 3,389
The Red Cross spent an estimated $813,000 to help people affected by the explosion and received $260,000 in designated donations. North Texas Tornadoes 2012: This disaster is in the Long-Term Recovery phase.
Services Shelters Opened People Registered at Shelters Meals/Snacks Served Relief Items Health/Mental Health Contacts
Statistics 4 767 40,745 6,122 445
The Red Cross spent $205,000 to help people affected by the tornado outbreak. We didn’t receive or solicit any designated donations specifically for th is disaster. However, the Red Cross received $145,000 in donations for disaster relief from Texans in the days immediately following the tornadoes.
Bastrop Wildfires 2011: This disaster is in the Long-Term Recovery Phase. Services Shelters Opened People Registered at Shelters Meals/Snacks Served Relief Items Health/Mental Health Contacts Statistics 7 879 59,862 31,549 3,788
The Red Cross spent $981,000 to help people affected by the wildfires and received about $1.5 million in designated donations. Possum Kingdom Wildfires 2011: This disaster relief operation is complete. Services Shelters Opened People Registered at Shelters Meals/Snacks Served Relief Items Statistics 8 370 12,285 2,541
Health/Mental Health Contacts
The Red Cross spent $197,000 to help people affected by the wildfires and received about $266,000 in designated donations.
Glossary of Terms: Shelters Operated: This reflects the number of separate shelters the Red Cross opened in response to each disaster. People Registered at Shelters will reflect the number of people who needed a safe place to stay and registered at the shelter because of the disaster. A total of 23 shelters were immediately opened following these five disasters and 2,104 Texans registered . Relief Items: Relief items can include shovels, rakes, tarps, work gloves, ash sifters, contractor bags, flashlights, first aid kids, etc. The decision on which supplies will be distributed is made based upon the type of disaster the Red Cross is responding to. On these five disasters alone, Red Cross donors helped the organization to distribute 69,709 essential clean-up items. Health/Mental Health Contacts: Red Cross volunteers with professional licenses in nursing and mental health services work with affected families to assist them with first aid, emotional counseling or other like services. Each service provided by a health or mental health worker is considered a “contact”. A total of 8,982 contacts have been made to date.