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Blog of the Month, January: Disaster Relief - By: Colleen Donnelly

Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes, impact virtually almost every region throughout the world. On average, natural disasters kill 60,000 people per year, accounting for 0.1% of global deaths. Although 0.1% illustrates a small percentage, natural disasters create many more issues on top of death. These drastic catastrophes can ruin entire cities, injure hundreds of thousands of people, displace people from their homes, and strip residents of basic necessities such as food, sanitation, and water. Many organizations provide relief to regions who experience the detrimental consequences of these natural disasters.


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies defines relief as, “the provision of essential, appropriate and timely humanitarian assistance to those affected by a disaster, based on an initial rapid assessment of needs and designed to contribute effectively and speedily to their early recovery.” According to this organization, relief is divided into three categories: food, shelter, and nonfood items. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies supplies regions that were affected by a natural disaster with food donations, individual or collective shelter, personal hygiene needs, and items that provide comfort such as blankets and bedding.


Two of the largest organizations that provide disaster relief are described below:


American Red Cross

The American Red Cross mission is to “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.” The organization provides several types of disaster relief, including earthquake, winter storm, home fire, hurricane, wildfire, and flood relief. In 2018 alone, the American Red Cross served over 8.2 million meals with partners, distributed over 2.2 million relief items, provided over 290,000 overnight shelter stays with partners, and made over 188,000 health and mental health contacts. If interested in volunteering or learning more about this organization, you can visit t