Lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey, Red Cross is ready to respond to the next storm

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2019

To The Editor

Every week across the nation, the American Red Cross works with communities and volunteers to prepare for and respond to disasters. As one of the largest flooding events in our history, Hurricane Harvey stressed to all of us the importance of preparation and showed areas that needed to be strengthened.

To that end, we have taken steps to better position volunteers and equipment, even in the worst conditions. We’ve also adjusted our pre-hurricane planning timeline to allow extra time. Finally, we have new processes to issue financial assistance efficiently and directly to those most in need. These changes are in direct response to Hurricane Harvey and are making a difference in our ability to respond to large-scale events across the country.

I remain proud of what thousands of Red Cross volunteers, working alongside our partners, made happen in those first few weeks: providing 414,800 overnight shelter stays, serving 4.5 million meals and snacks, and distributing 1.6 million relief items. 

To help those Texans most severely impacted pick up the pieces and begin rebuilding, the Red Cross has provided $345 million in financial assistance to hundreds of thousands of people. This includes launching a new program just three weeks post-landfall which ultimately provided $230 million in financial assistance to more than 575,000 households. Since then, the Red Cross has distributed an additional $115 million to more than 46,000 households to support longer-term recovery needs.

The Red Cross has also provided more than $59 million in grants supporting the efforts of more than 120 non-profit organizations helping to address hurricane-related needs including housing repair and rebuilding, dedicated support for long-term recovery groups and services such as legal advocacy and financial counseling, as well as behavioral health services with an eye to supporting children. 

Recovering from Harvey is a team effort and we are exceptionally thankful to our donors, volunteers and partners who have helped to make both our response and recovery efforts possible. 

As we watch the predictions for this hurricane season, we ask that you join us. Prepare your family to respond. Check your emergency supplies kit and make sure you have food, water, extra batteries and medications you might need. Download the Red Cross Emergency App to help you monitor storm conditions and find a shelter if you need one. Get involved by visiting redcross.org/volunteer and learning how you help your neighbors when disaster next strikes. 


Chester R. Jourdan, Jr., Executive Director

American Red Cross of Southeast and Deep East Texas