The American Red Cross

Disaster Relief Fund

Needs Help!

The rash of tornadoes in America's heartland has promoted the most simultaneous American Red Cross disaster relief operations since the September 11th attacks.  There are currently operations in 15 states, and as severe weather continues to threaten, those operations are growing and expanding into other states.  The devastation that's been left behind from more than 200 tornadoes is shocking, and the Red Cross urgently needs funds to ensure that we can meet the immediate needs of people affected by these tornadoes and storms, and other disasters.
The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund had a cash balance of ONLY $5 million, at the onset of these tornadoes.  That's dangerously low.  Based on preliminary data, estimated costs for the current tornado relief operations are already at $5 million and are expected to climb even higher.
It's rare that an organization dedicated to responding to crises is faced with a crisis itself.  The Disaster Relief Fund is running out of money.  This is the fund that allows Red Cross workers to provide essential disaster relief to those in need.
The Disaster Relief Fund is dangerously low.  If you think about the Disaster Relief Fund as a tank of gas, we have only a tenth of a tank left.  Essentially we're getting extremely close to "running on fumes".
As we head into the most active part of disaster season, it's vital that the fund is healthy and viable to cover the large disasters and the hundreds of smaller disasters that the Red Cross responds to every year across the country.  This fund is not a reserve; it is a working fund that needs continued replenishment when disaster strikes.  One large storm could wipe out the fund, and with hurricane season arriving, funds are desperately needed.  Tropical storm Allison, which struck Texas and Louisiana in 2001 on just the fifth day of hurricane season in June, is an example of how quickly funds are needed.  The most expensive tropical storm in Red Cross history, emergency response to victims of Allison cost the Red Cross $31.3 million.  A comfortable threshold for the Disaster Relief Fund is $56 million, which means we need to raise $51 million.
We've spent more to assist people during disasters this year than what has been received in funding, and we're relying on the public to help us help others in this critical time.  Since July 2002, the Red Cross has spent more than $85 million from the Disaster Relief Fund responding to 230 large-scale disasters, but raised only $26 million toward these efforts.
These "silent" disasters aren't the ones that appear on the evening news.  They may be large-scale disasters that happen in faraway places, like the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico or Guam - far from the public eye.  They may be the floods, tornadoes and ice storms that happen in rural areas without major media markets nearby.
Silent disasters can affect thousands, or just a handful of families suffering after an apartment fire.  Regardless of whether the disaster makes headlines, the Red Cross is there with the same crucial comfort and care that all disaster victims deserve.  There is no such thing as a small disaster - they are all equally devastating for the families experiencing them.
You're seeing headlines about the recent tornadoes, but you're probably not aware of the hundreds of other disaster victims we're helping right now -- victims of large apartment fires in Maryland and Florida, of floods in Gulf Coast states, of major hailstorms in Texas and Arkansas and an ice storm in New York.  Your contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund helps victims of the high-visibility disasters like the tornadoes and the quieter ones that are just as devastating to the family who experiences it.  And these low-profile disasters are a significant drain on the Disaster Relief Fund.
Last month alone, monies from the Disaster Relief Fund directly helped 310,520 families affected by 15 large disasters in nine states - from floods in Mississippi, Alabama and Puerto Rico; to tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas; to apartment fires in Oregon and Tennessee; to an ice storm in New York.  None of these disasters were major news events, but the Red Cross was there with comfort and care.  Though smaller in scope, these affected families deserved and received the same relief that victims of large, high-visibility disasters receive.  Help can't wait for headlines.
The Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund enables the Red Cross to respond to disasters anywhere, anytime, regardless of cost, the community's ability to support relief services, or media coverage.
In 2002, the Red Cross responded to 258 large-scale disasters (not including local chapter responses to events like single-family fires) assisting 761,627 families.
You can help those in need.  The best way you can help victims of disasters is to make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW or visiting
All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people.  You can help the victims of these tornadoes and other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need.  Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-254-7575 (Spanish).  Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to the American Red Cross, Milford Chapter, PO Box 390, Milford, CT 06460 or to the American Red Cross, PO Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.  Internet users can make secure online credit card donations by visiting

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