Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hurricane Katrina... Five Years Later

It's been five years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, leaving thousands of families throughout Louisiana and Mississippi without a city to call home. While the American Red Cross in Dallas didn't experience the high winds or broken dams, the organization experienced a tidal wave of evacuees that led to the largest humanitarian operation in North Texas history.

  • We registered 24,299 evacuees.
  • 27,000 evacuees spoke to a mental health volunteer.
  • We received 162,000 calls to the Red Cross emergency hotline.
  • We utilized 3,840 Red Cross volunteers.
  • We provided $7.1 million in financial assistance to victims.

Below are a few more Katrina facts:

  • The American Red Cross helped 4.5 million people affected by the 2005 hurricane season.
  • The American Red Cross in Dallas, TX fielded more calls for help because of Hurricane Katrina that the entire national organization fielded in the 2004 hurricane season.
  • Within the global Red Cross network, Hurricane Katrina was the first U.S. disaster to ever be classified as an international disaster. That means the American Red Cross was unable to manage the relief operation without help from Red Cross societies in other countries. Just to name a few, the German, Canadian, French and Mexican Red Cross societies sent relief workers to the U.S. to work side-by-side with American Red Cross and local governments.
  • The American Red Cross collected, and distributed back to Katrina's victims, $2.2 billion.

During the effort, we learned many lessons including:

  1. Trained volunteers are necessary before a disaster strikes.
  2. Partnerships with other organizations must be in place before a disaster strikes.
  3. Support from the community is imperative.

In order to live by our own mantra of "preparedness," two new programs were developed including "Ready When the Time Comes," a corporate volunteer program that will train shelter workers in advance of a storm, and "Disaster Volunteer Reserve," where individual volunteers can attend a short boot-camp training and only be called upon when a catastrophic disaster strikes.

Our local numbers are staggering, but only a small glimpse into what the American Red Cross accomplished nation-wide. To see a full summary report of the response across America, go to

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