WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross today released a one-year report highlighting how the Red Cross has helped the people of Chile recover following last year's earthquake and announced plans to help the country prepare for future big disasters.
The 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010, triggering a tsunami that swept inland, damaging homes, hospitals and schools. More than 480 people were killed and an estimated 1.8 million other people were affected by this disaster.
"Americans generously responded to this disaster, providing resources for relief, recovery and disaster preparedness programs," said Guillermo Garcia, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the American Red Cross. "Thanks to their support, the American Red Cross and its partners in the global Red Cross network have been able to help more than 100,000 Chileans affected by last year's earthquake and tsunami."
As a part of the emergency response, the American Red Cross sent water containers and hygiene kits for 25,000 people from a regional warehouse in Panama, provided financial assistance, and deployed two regionally-based Red Cross staff to assess water and sanitation needs and help to manage response activities. This support, valued at more than $1 million, helped meet immediate needs in the first three months following the quake.
As the operation transitioned from the relief phase to longer-term recovery, the Red Cross identified shelter as a major need. After the earthquake destroyed thousands of homes, the Chilean government provided affected families with basic transitional shelters, which still required improvements such as insulation, stoves or bathrooms. Many residents lacked the financial resources to make these changes or repair their damaged homes.
Through an innovative RED Card program, the American Red Cross and Chilean Red Cross are now helping people make improvements or repairs by providing debit cards to assist up to 42,000 people. These cards allow families to purchase up to $350 in tools and materials at select hardware stores throughout Chile. The American Red Cross is providing half of the funding - $1.7 million – for this program.
"This is a real success story in terms of its impact," said Garcia. "The RED Card is supporting families in buying those items that will significantly improve the basic safety and comfort of their damaged homes."
As Chile is a country that is rocked by frequent and powerful earthquakes, some scientists believe that a 7 to 8 magnitude earthquake could strike again in the near future. In fact, earlier this month, on February 11th a 7.0 quake occurred near the epicenter of last year's trembler, but caused little damage.
The American Red Cross is now working in partnership with the Chilean Red Cross to launch a multi-million dollar disaster preparedness program to strengthen both the affected community and Red Cross capacity to prepare for and respond effectively to future disasters. Experts are training these groups on disaster preparedness best practices and implementing community-based education programs and disaster mitigation projects. This program builds on successful American Red Cross preparedness programs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Following the earthquake and tsunami, the American Red Cross received $6.3 million in donations. Of this amount, $1.3 million has been spent for emergency relief activities while $1.7 million will go toward longer-term recovery, and another $3.3 million toward improving disaster preparedness.
More details on the Red Cross relief and recovery efforts in Chile can be found in the one-year report available at www.redcross.org/international.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.
SOURCE American Red Cross