Pictures only tell part of the story. Behind every smoldered house or small boat rowing through flood waters, there’s a neighborhood lost; a family reeling. And a recovery operation launched, one red vest at a time.
The country was hit hard in 2016. Looking at the numbers, we found the Red Cross provided more disaster assistance this year than the past two years combined, including 180 significant disasters in 45 states and two U.S. territories. Here are photos from over the past year that help tell the story of those who have faced the worst – wildfires, storms, flooding, Hurricane Matthew and other emergencies – and pulled through.
January: Tornadoes swept through Texas
This day in January, Red Cross emergency response vehicle crews took donated meals from an area Chili’s Restaurant to communities of Garland and Rowlett affected by the recent tornadoes in Texas. Here, Roxanne Bunkoff hands out a meal.
In March, floods inundated Mississippi
Suzy and Aaron Cooley braved the flood waters on a fishing boat in McClain, Mississippi, after devastating flooding forced thousands of people from their homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas this March. Here, Red Cross volunteer Sarah Basel notifies them of a nearby Red Cross point of contact.
June brought flooding to West Virginia
A Red Cross worker spoke with Kevin Scott and his brother-in-law Mark Lester who helped him recover what they could from Kevin’s home in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Kevin’s house was flooded and then caught fire. Although he and his wife and children were able to make it to safety, tragically, his mother died during the incident.
Floods devastated Louisiana starting in August
During her stay at the Red Cross shelter in Gonzales, Louisiana, Redina Lee (left) talked with Sharon Butler-Walker, a new Red Cross volunteer. Redina says the Red Cross shelter has been good. “I’m blessed here. I don’t have to pay anything.” For more than a month starting in August, thousands of Red Cross disaster workers helped people in Louisiana impacted by the devastating flooding.
Hurricane Matthew hit the east coast in October
This October, Gregory Moad left his house in Lumberton, North Carolina, when the waters began to rise from Hurricane Matthew. He later realized he’d be unable to return to retrieve clothes and necessities on foot or by car, so he borrowed a boat. His friend Keith Cummings helped row Gregory over to his house to climb in and get some essentials. Despite the unusual and difficult circumstances, the two were in good spirits as they rowed back to high ground.
In December, a fire roared through Tennessee
This burned out home is one of the hundreds of structures around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee affected by fire in early December. Many families had only minutes to escape, and some did not make it. Such harrowing experiences can trigger emotional distress that is hard to shake, so Red Cross mental health volunteers stepped in to help survivors cope.
A full summary of our 2016 disaster response and ways you can help is on redcross.org.