2023 trends: Red Cross responds to growing disaster-driven humanitarian needs

Updated on November 27, 2023

In 2023, intensifying extreme disasters took a devastating toll on people in the U.S. who turned to the American Red Cross for help coping with a record number of billion-dollar disasters.

So far this year, an all-time high of 25 billion-dollar disasters ravaged communities across the country. In addition, families sweltered in the nation’s hottest summer on record. And back-to-back disasters led to a series of blood drive cancellations, which further strained the national Red Cross blood supply that was already dwindling from summer travel and back-to-school activities.

“The climate crisis is causing more humanitarian needs for families,” Jorge Martinez, CEO, American Red Cross of Greater Pennsylvania, said. “This holiday season, please remember those who need support in the face of emergencies — and join us to provide care and comfort by making a financial donation or by giving blood or platelets.”

Help on GivingTuesday and during the holidays by visiting redcross.org to make a financial donation or an appointment to give blood or platelets. Individuals can also register for volunteer opportunities in their area.

INCREASING SUPPORT AMID THE CLIMATE CRISIS With the growing frequency and intensity of disasters driven by the climate crisis, the Red Cross is racing to adapt its services and grow its disaster response capacity across the country. As part of this national work in 2023, the Red Cross distributed $108 million in financial assistance directly to people after disasters of all sizes, including for major disasters such as Hurricane Idalia, the Hawaii wildfires and a spate of tornadoes across multiple states.

Across the country, the Red Cross is delivering this vital financial assistance on top of its immediate relief efforts — including safe shelter, nutritious meals and emotional support — which have been provided on a near-constant basis for this year’s relentless extreme disasters. In fact, this year’s onslaught of large disasters drove an increase in emergency lodging provided by the Red Cross with partners — with overnight stays up more than 50% compared to the annual average for the previous five years. 

This year, volunteers from the American Red Cross of Greater Pennsylvania deployed more than 300 times to disasters across the country. In addition to helping people in their local community affected by home fires, floods and storm damage, Pennsylvania volunteers stepped up to travel to relief operations in more than 20 states in 2023.

RESPONDING TO ADDITIONAL EMERGING NEEDS Beyond extreme disasters, people stepped up through the Red Cross to address other emerging needs for communities, including:

  • BLOOD DONATIONS: As the nation’s largest blood supplier, the Red Cross is grateful for the millions of donors who rolled up a sleeve throughout the year for patients in need. To further improve people’s health outcomes, the Red Cross has been working with community partners to introduce blood donation to a new and more diverse generation of blood donors — which is critical to ensuring that a reliable blood supply is available to the 1 in 7 hospital patients who need a lifesaving blood transfusion.The holidays can be a challenging time to collect enough blood for those in need. To book a time to give, visit RedCrossBlood.org, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App or call 1-800-RED CROSS. To celebrate the upcoming Prime Video release, Candy Cane Lane, those that come to give blood in December will be automatically entered to win a holiday prize package, including a $1,000 Amazon.com Gift Card and 65-inch Omni QLED Series Amazon Fire TV. There will be 12 winners. Plus, those who come to give Dec. 1-17 will get a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email. Terms for both offers apply. See rcblood.org/AmazonCandy Cane Lane features an all-star cast, including Eddie Murphy and Tracee Ellis Ross, and directed by Reginald Hudlin
  • MILITARY FAMILIES: Red Cross workers helped service members on U.S. military installations and deployment sites worldwide — including in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. As part of our support this year, Red Cross volunteers delivered emergency communications messages connecting more than 87,000 service members with their loved ones during times of family need, while also engaging members in morale and wellness activities during deployments.
  • LIFESAVING TRAINING: This year, the Red Cross expanded its training to empower people to act during current-day crises — which is vital considering that nearly half of U.S. adults report being unprepared to respond to a medical emergency. This included launching the new “Until Help Arrives” online training course last spring for opioid overdoses, severe bleeding, cardiac arrest and choking emergencies, and partnering with professional sports leagues through the Smart Heart Sports Coalition to help prevent tragedies among student athletes by offering CPR training and increasing access to AEDs.

Visit our Year in Review webpage for more information about how the American Red Cross of Greater Pennsylvania helped people in 2023.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.