More than 80 disaster experts from the Red Cross societies of more than 10 countries are already in place or making plans to travel to the United States in response to a call from the American Red Cross. They will support thousands of American Red Cross volunteers on the ground providing food and shelter to tens of thousands of people affected by the disaster.
Among the Red Cross Societies deploying experts are the Belgian Red Cross, British Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Mexican Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross. The International Committee of the Red Cross is also supporting with experts.
Disaster experts from the Red Cross Societies of Britain, Canada and Mexico are already in the field in the southern United States. The Canadian Red Cross has already sent 25 experienced and highly trained volunteers specialising in logistics, health, volunteer support, and food and shelter to Houston for three-week assignments.
In addition the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is deploying a bilingual Spanish-English communications specialist, who should arrive on Sunday. The International Federation is coordinating the international response by Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, including fundraising by dozens of societies.
Additional deployments are being considered. All experts will be coordinated by the American Red Cross and integrated into its system.
“The American Red Cross has been working around the clock sheltering and feeding tens of thousands of people affected by the hurricane. We can offer them the expertise of our specialists, who have worked in disasters around the globe,” said Santiago Gil, International Federation head of the Americas Department today (Sunday, September 4).
The President and Secretary-General of the International Federation have both contacted the American Red Cross with messages of support and to coordinate the international response.
The American Red Cross is offering safe housing for more than 94,000 people in more than 300 shelters in nine states. In addition, the American Red Cross served 170,000 hot meals on Friday and aims to build this capacity so it can serve more than 500,000 hot meals a day. Other American Red Cross assistance includes health and mental health counselling, a 24-hour toll-free hotline and emergency response vehicles.
The American Red Cross has launched a web site to help assist family members who are seeking news about loved ones missing after Hurricane Katrina. Visit the “Family Links Registry” via www.redcross.org to register.