No matter how many years go by, this day always starts the same for me. The minute I wake up, I weep, and I’ll do that all throughout the day as I reflect back on the families I met who endured so much grief after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Over the years, I’ve shared many of those stories with you, so today, I want to share a new perspective. While I was researching this story, I was reminded of the overwhelming uncertainty on that day, but being Red Crossers, we had to respond regardless. The following information is representative of what the American Red Cross did on that day alone:
- Activated 6,000 Red Cross volunteers to fan out across the impact areas
- Opened 13 Red Cross shelters
- Sent Disaster Mental Health workers to shelters, crash sites, airports and hospitals
- Opened Respite Centers for firefighters, police officers, port authority workers and others
- Received 1 Million calls on the Blood Donation line (the previous record in one day was 3,000 calls)
- Every chapter in the nation supported stranded passengers at airports as air space was shut down
- Lost one Emergency Response Vehicle—destroyed in the collapse as volunteers were responding at the World Trade Center
With no road map, no operating procedures and in complete chaos, your American Red Cross accomplished all of the above. And that was just day one of the response.
Today, let’s all remember those who died, those who served and those who carry on.