2021: Red Cross responded to one of the country’s most active severe weather years, with new major relief effort every 11 days

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This Giving Tuesday and holiday season, support Red Cross to help those most vulnerable

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — 2021 marked one of the country’s most active years for severe weather — which battered many communities still reeling from last year’s disasters and was exacerbated by the challenges of an ongoing pandemic. For thousands of people in need, the American Red Cross launched a new major relief effort every 11 days to provide refuge, food and care.

“Our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unique and pressing struggles when crisis strikes on top of COVID-19,” Stacy Burks, Southern Missouri executive director, said. “This Giving Tuesday and holiday season, we ask everyone to join us by making a financial donation to help us provide ongoing support to our communities when emergencies happen.”

This year, a family displaced by a disaster in the U.S. spent an average of nearly 30 days in a Red Cross-supported emergency shelter. These extended stays were largely due to a lack of savings and community housing shortages — signs that disasters are compounding the financial hardships of the pandemic.

During last fiscal year, July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, the Missouri Arkansas Region assisted over 12,000 individuals following local disasters, primarily home fires as well as other storm and flooding damage. This breaks down to close to 7,500 individuals in Missouri (which does include counties in Kansas and Illinois along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers) and over 4,700 individuals in Arkansas. Over $2.6 million dollars in financial assistance was provided to these individuals.

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 “We also ask those who aren’t in a position to help financially, to consider volunteering time to our mission or donating blood,” Elders said.

Drop in new blood donors seen in 2021; Blood supply at its lowest in more than a decade

To meet the increasing needs of hospital patients, the Red Cross distributed 250,000 more blood products in 2021 than last year, until the delta variant began to spread in August. The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34% drop in new blood donors from last year — one of the largest year-to-year decreases that could threaten essential medical care for patients. Locally, the Missouri-Arkansas Red Cross Region has experienced a 13.4 % decrease in new blood donors this year.

As a result of low blood donor turnout in recent months, the Red Cross is heading into the holidays with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade at this time of year. Blood donations are desperately needed now to meet the needs of accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Red Cross supported families displaced from Afghanistan and other areas

Around the world, massive humanitarian needs emerged in 2021 for a growing number of families displaced by the overlapping challenges of conflict. This year, at the request of federal government partners, Red Cross workers from Missouri-Arkansas deployed to other states with Red Cross workers across the U.S. to distribute more than 2.1 million essential items — like blankets, diapers, medicine and toys — for Afghan evacuees arriving on U.S. military bases and unaccompanied children seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We are thankful to our donors who give financially, to those who give time to volunteer and to those who donate blood,” Elders said. “Each of these actions make a significant difference to someone in need and may also save lives.”

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.