By Los Angeles Region CEO, Jarrett Barrios
Well, I certainly cannot believe it has been two months since Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas and parts of Louisiana, dropping more rain and leaving a path of destruction across more territory than almost any storm in U.S. history. Here at the Red Cross, in response to Harvey, we have spent more money helping more people in a shorter period of time than with any disaster response since Hurricane Katrina. If you’re interested, a complete breakdown of how we are helping can be found in this report.
Now that the emergency phase of our response has been completed, we are focused on long-term recovery programs to help get people back on their feet and assist with unmet needs in affected communities. Moving forward, we will continue to work with local and state partners to see these efforts through.
Our specific commitment to the people affected by Harvey has included mobilizing volunteers to provide more than 435,000 overnight shelter stays, and more than 4.5 million meals and snacks. We have also distributed more than 1.6 million relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits that contained personal hygiene items. Of course, none of this could be possible without the generous support of our donors who, since Harvey hit, have helped us to raise more than $420 million in donations and pledges—of which 91 cents of every dollar will be utilized to help the people affected.
One of the most rewarding parts of Red Cross relief work is the long-term recovery support efforts. Long after the TV cameras are gone, we continue providing relief. Because of the incredible generosity of our donors, we’ve already provided hundreds of millions of dollars of support to Harvey victims; with the next phase of Red Cross assistance targeting additional recovery support for people whose homes were destroyed or suffered major damage. We will also continue to help those who are eligible understand, and apply for FEMA assistance.
As someone who was deployed to Houston, I know these people desperately needed, and still need our help. In the days and weeks that followed the storm, I was able to witness, first-hand, the monumental impact our work was having throughout affected communities. Two months later, as I look back, I am so proud of everyone from the Los Angeles Region who pitched in, made sacrifices, and deployed to assist with Harvey relief efforts. And, although the end of the road is still quite far off in the distance, we will continue to work with people who need help until together, we can safely reach our final destination.
Jarrett Barrios is the Chief Executive Officer at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. But, above all, Jarrett Barrios is a humanitarian with more than 20 years of experience helping people in need throughout the United States and Cuba.
To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org.