Red Cross calls for volunteers as hurricane season nears
Published 1:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2023
NEW ORLEANS, MAY 31, 2023 — With the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season beginning Thursday, the American Red Cross of Louisiana calls on Louisianans to prepare their families for the possibility of major hurricanes and to consider volunteering as climate-driven disasters become more frequent and intense.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecasted near-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this hurricane season, which starts Thursday and runs through Nov. 30. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicts a range of 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
“Louisiana knows all too well that it only takes one hurricane to disrupt lives, devastate communities and trigger large-scale disaster relief efforts,” said Louisiana Red Cross CEO Shawn Schulze. “We are ready to help our neighbors this hurricane season, and we encourage all Louisianans to consider volunteering so that you too can make a difference when it matters most.”
In the last 10 years, the number of billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. has increased 70% when adjusted for inflation. From 2013 to 2022, the U.S. saw 152 disasters that cost $1 billion, compared to 89 in the 10-year period that ended in 2012. Meanwhile, most of the costliest disasters in the country’s history – eight out of the top 10 – have been hurricanes.
Louisiana Red Crossers work year-round to update the organization’s response plans, practice large-scale disaster responses, recruit and train volunteers and refresh the stock of relief supplies, such as cots and cleaning kits. The organization will host regular training and information sessions for volunteers throughout hurricane season and is prepared to provide shelter, comfort, care and resources in the event of a climate disaster.
“We spend all year preparing for the summer months when our threat for high-impact disasters is at its highest,” Schulze said. “Now is the time for Louisiana residents to review their evacuation plans and recheck their emergency kits so that everyone is ready to go in those high-stress moments before, during and after a severe storm makes landfall.”
As the number of climate disasters increase, the Louisiana Red Cross is growing its volunteer capacity to respond to these emergencies and provide relief and hope when it matters most. Visit redcross.org to sign up now. These are the most-needed disaster volunteer positions:
- SHELTER SUPPORT: Help at a shelter during a large disaster by welcoming and registering residents, serving meals, setting up cots, distributing blankets and personal hygiene kits, and providing information and other assistance to people in need.
- HEALTH SERVICES: Use your professional skills as a licensed health care provider to deliver hands-on support, including care and education to people staying at a shelter during a large disaster.
- DISASTER ACTION TEAM: While big hurricanes get the most news coverage, smaller disasters such as home fires are no less devastating to those affected. Join your local Disaster Action Team to help families in need by providing food, lodging, comfort, recovery assistance and other support.
Red Cross volunteers make up 90% of the organization’s workforce. Across the country, they’re continuously providing shelter, comfort, hot meals, health services and recovery support to families in need. Since just Jan. 1, 2023, 27 Louisiana Red Crossers have deployed a combined 30 times to 13 different disasters, including tornadoes, flooding, wildfires and typhoons.
“Louisiana Red Crossers are compassionate, committed and experienced leaders in disaster relief,” Schulze said. “But the heightened frequency and intensity of climate disasters means we’re increasingly in a large response, either helping our neighbors here at home or our friends across the country. This creates an urgent need for more volunteers. We have a job for everyone, no matter your experience or skillset. And I’m proud that here in Louisiana, especially, we have outstanding volunteer leaders who can train and mentor folks who want to join our movement.”
HOW TO GET READY
Now is also the time to make sure everyone in your family is prepared for hurricanes. Follow these steps to help make sure your family is ready to either evacuate or hunker down if a storm threatens your community.
- First, create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency or if you need to evacuate.
- Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for infants or pets, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.
- Stay informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.
- Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to have severe weather safety information right at your fingertips. The Emergency app provides real-time weather alerts and tips on how to stay safe during severe weather and countless other emergencies. Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.