TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of people depend on the American Red Cross every year, but now, they need help. ABC Action News reporter Anthony Hill shows us how they are trying to rebound from a pandemic and a busy year of responding to natural disasters.
“This is one of the most active years for extreme weather that I’ve experienced,” said Gail McGovern, President of the American Red Cross. When there is a disaster, whether it be extreme weather or a house fire, the American Red Cross is usually one of the first organizations to hit the ground offering their services. “They’re providing food, shelter, comfort, hope.”
This year, a family displaced by a disaster in the United States spent an average of about 30 days in a Red Cross supported emergency shelter. “We’re seeing families staying in our shelters longer.”
We have been seeing an increase in natural disasters across the country. “Disasters are happening from coast-to-coast.” From hurricanes to wildfires, many attribute that trend to climate change. Between that and the ongoing pandemic, the American Red Cross is spread thin. Many Red Cross volunteers from the Bay Area are deployed to help, no matter where a disaster strikes. “We sent more than 150 volunteers from central Florida. They went to California, went to Texas, went to Louisiana, they were in Alabama, Mississippi,” said Eric Corliss from the American Red Cross of Tampa Bay.
Another problem is the lack of blood donations due to the pandemic. “Our inventory is the lowest it’s been in a decade,” said McGovern.
The Red Cross does not collect blood in Florida, but OneBlood does. They say, they have also experienced a decrease in donations because they get a large portion of their blood from places like college campuses and churches, which had to shut down during the pandemic. “We had to think of new ways to have blood drives and shift our operations to accommodate what is, now, the new normal.”
If you would like to make a monetary donation or volunteer with the Red Cross, or donate blood to OneBlood, here are their websites: