WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 Two years ago, the gulfregion was overcome by a rapid series of storms that caused devastation unlikeany in this country's history. The American Red Cross quickly responded toprovide emergency assistance throughout the region. Today, the Red Crossremains dedicated to the recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast even as itresponds to current emergency needs across the nation.
Hurricane Katrina left in its wake utter devastation and despairthroughout the gulf. America responded to this bleak vision with anunprecedented outpouring of support and assistance. Thousands of volunteersmobilized to support the largest domestic relief operation in the history ofthe Red Cross. During the emergency phase of the response to hurricanesKatrina, Rita and Wilma, the Red Cross provided 3.8 million overnight stays inRed Cross shelters, served 68 million meals and snacks and provided emergencyassistance to nearly 1.4 million households.
"Our response to Katrina really was an important chapter in our history,"commented Mark W. Everson, President and CEO of the American Red Cross. "Sinceour relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the storm, many of ourdisaster workers have actively supported the personal recovery efforts ofKatrina survivors. In fact, some of our Red Cross colleagues are survivorsthemselves. Katrina reinforced for this entire organization the importance ofour role in our communities across the nation."
Individuals, families and communities are now focusing on recovery, but itremains clear that the needs far outweigh the resources available from the RedCross and the entire non-profit sector. Through its Hurricane Recovery Programand participation in the Coordinated Assistance Network, the Red Crosscontinues to partner with local organizations to provide survivors with theresources they need, including recovery planning, emotional support andinformation referrals. With hope and dignity, these survivors arerehabilitating their communities and moving forward with their lives.
The progress in the region over the past two years is unmistakable. Yet,the vision of closed schools and businesses, and residents living in trailersoutside their still uninhabitable homes persists. The Red Cross encourageseveryone to continue to support local Red Cross chapters and other groups thatcontinue to work in these communities. The 2005 storms taught all of us thataggressive action is needed by families, communities and groups such as theRed Cross. The Red Cross has gotten ready for the next big event by triplingits warehouse space, increasing stockpiles of food, cots, and blankets,increasing the number of kitchens and feeding trucks, and positioningsatellite communications equipment across the nation. Individuals and familiescan get ready too by taking three simple steps:
The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighborsfor 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of themfires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of theRed Cross for help and hope. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters,more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare forand respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4million people give blood -- the gift of life -- through the Red Cross, makingit the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. TheRed Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from theirfamilies by military duty stay connected. As part of the International RedCross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 nationalsocieties, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's mostvulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spendsis invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not agovernment agency; it relies