Tuesday, 21 December 2021 11:18

Red Cross Response in 2021: Families face emergency needs amid COVID-19, climate change and global conflict

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CHARLOTTE — In 2021, people in the Greater Carolinas Region and across the country faced great emergency needs as the ongoing pandemic exacerbated the challenges related to severe disasters, blood shortages and global conflict.


“Our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unique and pressing struggles when crisis strikes on top of COVID-19,” Allison Taylor, regional executive, Greater Carolinas Region said. “This holiday season, join us to provide help and hope in these difficult moments by making a financial donation or by giving blood or platelets.”

During the holidays, visit redcross.org to make a financial donation. Individuals can also learn about volunteer opportunities in their area and give back in honor of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, whose 200th birthday will be commemorated on Dec. 25.

RELENTLESS DISASTERS COMPOUND COVID-19 STRUGGLES

2021 marked one of the country’s most active years for severe weather — which battered many communities still reeling from last year’s disasters. 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.

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 climate-driven disasters are compounding the financial hardships of the pandemic.

This disaster season was incredibly busy for the Red Cross Greater Carolinas Region with 135 local volunteers responding to help people near and far whose lives have been upended by hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters outside of the region. Additionally, in Greater Carolinas, nearly 170 Red Crossers provided aid to the families and community affected by flooding and landslides brought on by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred. This included specially trained disaster mental health and spiritual care volunteers who provided one-on-one support to those coping with the tragedy. Red Cross caseworkers met with families to help them plan their next steps and provided financial assistance when needed.

COVID-19 STRAINS BLOOD SUPPLY FOR PATIENTS

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 Greater Carolinas Red Cross Region has experienced a 26% 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.

GLOBAL CONFLICT CREATES MASS NEEDS FOR DISPLACED FAMILIES

Around the world, massive humanitarian needs emerged in 2021 for a growing number of families displaced by the overlapping challenges of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change. This year, at the request of federal government partners, Red Cross workers from Greater Carolinas and across the country distributed 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.