2002 has been a busy year for the American Red Cross. Tornadoes, hurricanes and large apartment fires placed Alabama number six among 10 states having the most Red Cross disaster relief operations.
The agency responded to 10 large-scale disasters in Alabama.
Included are the dozens of tornadoes that struck Alabama and six other states on Veterans Day, killing more than 30 people and damaging 4,000 homes. It resulted in the American Red Cross' fourth-largest disaster relief effort of the year.
Five of the 10 relief operations in Alabama were a result of large apartment fires -- the Red Cross said in 2001 it assisted more than 2,300 families across the state. This year, the Birmingham area chapter has assisted 218 families whose homes were destroyed by fire.
Hurricane Lili and Tropical Storm Isidore resulted in the largest effort this year from the American Red Cross, with more than 75,000 families being assisted at a cost of $15.8 million.
For the year through November, the American Red Cross reports spending $67.6 million to assist disaster victims.
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What is the Red Cross?
The Red Cross is committed to saving lives and easing suffering. This diverse organization serves humanity and helps by providing relief to victims of disaster, both locally and globally.
In the wake of an earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, hurricane or other disaster, The Red Cross provides relief services to communities across the country and around the world.
The American Red Cross functions independently of the U.S. government but works closely with government agencies during times of major crises. It is responsible for giving aid to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to disaster victims at home and abroad.
History of the Red Cross
The Red Cross idea was born in 1859, when Henry Dunant, a young Swiss man, came upon the scene of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy, between the armies of imperial Austria and the Franco-Sardinian alliance. Some 40,000 men lay dead or dying on the battlefield and the wounded were lacking medical attention. Dunant organized local people to bind the soldiers' wounds and to feed and comfort them. On his return, he called for the creation of national relief societies to assist those wounded in war, and pointed the way to the future Geneva Conventions.
In October 1863, The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was created in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide nonpartisan care to the wounded and sick in times of war. The Red Cross emblem was adopted at this first International Conference as a symbol of neutrality and was to be used by national relief societies. In August 1864, the representatives of 12 governments signed the Geneva Convention Treaty. The extraordinary efforts of Henry Dunant led to the eventual establishment of the International Red Cross.
Today, the Red Cross Movement incorporates the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the International Federation), as well as National Societies in 175 countries, including the American Red Cross of the United States.
Clara Barton (1821-1912) dominates the early history of the American Red Cross, which was modeled after the International Red Cross. She did not originate the Red Cross idea, but she was the first person to establish a lasting Red Cross Society in America. She successfully organized the American Association of the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 1881. Created to serve America in peace and in war, during times of disaster and national calamity, Barton's organization took its service beyond that of the International Red Cross Movement by adding disaster relief to battlefield assistance. She served as the organization's volunteer president until 1904.