Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back at 2014: Quiet is a Relative Term

By Elisa DiTrolio and Patricia Billinger

In the world of the Red Cross, "quiet" is a relative term.

As we reach the end of 2014, we're thankful that no large-scale disasters occurred in our region this year. Although we experienced a little relief this year, the Red Cross stayed busy, responding to everyday disasters, assisting other states with recovery and response, and sharing safety and preparedness education and resources.

This year, we helped more than 422 families affected by home fires in more than 90 cities and towns in Colorado. Home fires are the most prevalent disasters, occurring on average more than once a day in Colorado.

Delivering safe drinking water in Saguache.
In 2014, Red Cross volunteers assisted more than 1,400 individuals affected by disasters, providing food, clothing, lodging, and emotional support. In addition to the near-daily home fires, the Red Cross responded to other disasters such as a water emergency in Saguache, where we delivered 600 gallons of water, and flooding that forced the evacuation of more than 150 Boy Scouts to a Red Cross shelter in Walsenburg. The Red Cross of Colorado also deployed volunteers to assist residents affected by disasters in other states, including wildfire and mudslide responses in Washington state and flooding in New Mexico and Texas. Finally, our workers continued delivering comfort and assistance to hundreds of peopled who were still recovering from the 2013 floods.

Numerous times throughout the year, our volunteers focused on readiness efforts as we went on alert, ready to respond, during flash flood and tornado warnings and small wildfire pre-evacuations. Part of being ready is participating in various exercises to prepare volunteers to be part of the bigger team that responds when disaster strikes. We also worked diligently to help prepare community members, groups, businesses and organizations so that they are better able to face emergencies and bounce back after disasters strike.

Without our dedicated volunteers, we could not have done this work, and we are grateful for each and every volunteer who contributed in 2014, from the behind-the-scenes office volunteer filing and answering calls to the Disaster Action Team members who go out in the middle of the night to help their neighbors at their time of greatest need. Thank you!

If you read this blog, we encourage you to join us in a moment of gratitude that Colorado was spared major catastrophe -- and join us in a moment of heartfelt thoughts for those hundreds of residents who were touched by smaller, personal disasters like home fires. Join us in saying "thank you" to a volunteer. And we hope you'll join us in our mission in 2015 by becoming a volunteer or donating to support the work of the Red Cross.

Wishing you a Safe and Happy New Year!

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