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Red Cross: Prepare for worsening extreme weather during National Preparedness Month

Red Cross responds to nearly twice as many large disasters in U.S. as a decade ago

During National Preparedness Month in September, the American Red Cross of Illinois urges everyone to prepare for worsening climate disasters and extreme weather affecting the Illinois region, which has experienced numerous tornadoes, flooding and other disasters just this year.

Severe weather like this is part of a worsening national trend in which the Red Cross has responded to nearly twice as many large disasters across the country as it did a decade ago.

As rapidly intensifying, weather-related events pose serious challenges to its humanitarian work and the people it serves, the Red Cross has announced an ambitious national plan to take urgent action. With more climate-driven disasters upending lives and devastating communities, the organization is racing to adapt its services and grow its disaster response capacity across the country, while also funding new international programs on climate response and preparedness, as well as minimizing its own environmental footprint.

Here in the Illinois region, this includes responding to disasters locally and across the country, recruiting and training more volunteers.

“As the frequency and intensity of disasters and extreme weather grow, more people need help more often,” said Mark Thomas, interim CEO for the American Red Cross Illinois region. “Yet as fast as our volunteers are working to help, the needs are escalating faster. That’s why it’s critical to not only prepare yourself for risks like storms and tornadoes in our community, but to also help families in need — both locally and in other parts of the country. Join us by becoming a volunteer or making a financial donation to support our disaster relief efforts.”

For National Preparedness Month, take three lifesaving actions — get a kit, make a plan and be informed — to help protect yourself against local emergencies. Follow safety tips now at You can also deliver relief and care to families facing climate disasters and extreme weather by becoming a Red Cross volunteer at

MOUNTING U.S. DISASTER RESPONSES In the first half of 2023 alone, the nation experienced an above-average 15 billion-dollar disasters, including the tornado outbreak and severe storms that impacted the Illinois region. That’s all on top of extreme heat which made July the country’s hottest single month on record.The Illinois Red Cross responded – opening shelters at several locations, providing assistance, serving meals and handing out supplies to residents affected by tornadoes, severe storms, floods and other disasters.

ADAPTING TO THE CLIMATE CRISIS As extreme weather disasters increase, more people need help from the Red Cross in the U.S. Nationwide, the organization is taking bold and thoughtful actions to adapt its services and grow its capacity by:

·         Enhancing large-scale disaster response services by bolstering the aid provided in emergency shelters and extending casework support to help people with the most recovery needs.

·         Expanding financial assistance to help more families with unmet needs and bridge the gap between immediate disaster relief and long-term recovery assistance.

·         Strengthening local partner networks in targeted areas that face a high risk of extreme weather and existing societal inequities with a focus on increased access to health and mental health services, nutritious food and safe housing for local families.

·         Growing its disaster workforce — comprised of 90% trained volunteers — to deepen its disaster readiness. This includes fortifying the critical infrastructure and technology that enables 24/7 response to disasters across the country.

SUPPORT OUR DISASTER RELIEF WORK Help people affected by disasters big and small, including climate-driven crises, by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters in the U.S. Visit or call 800-RED CROSS.

CLIMATE AND WEATHER IMPACTS TO THE NATIONAL BLOOD SUPPLY The Red Cross has seen a significant shortfall in blood and platelet donations over the last month, making it hard to keep pace with the need for blood products. Blood and platelet donations that go uncollected due to climate-related events, such as hurricanes, wildfires and extreme heat, can put further strain on the national blood supply. As extreme weather events are worsening, the Red Cross is seeing that translate into more blood drive cancellations. In 2022, over 1,300 blood drives were canceled due to weather  —  about 23% higher than the average of the prior nine years.

In thanks for helping ensure the nation’s blood supply is prepared for all emergencies, from disasters to medical emergencies, all who come to give blood, platelets or plasma Sept. 1-18 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last. Those who come to give throughout September will also receive a coupon for a free haircut by email, thanks to Sport Clips Haircuts. Details are available at Donors can schedule an appointment to donate using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, by visiting or by calling 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767). If you are unable to give blood you can volunteer to support blood collections. Visit to learn more.

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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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