BANGOR — During National Preparedness Month in September, the American Red Cross of Northern New England urges everyone to prepare for more weather extremes, as we’ve seen our responses to climate disasters, like flooding, rise across our region.
Severe weather, like escalating hurricanes, deadly tornadoes and the recent catastrophic flooding in Vermont, are 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 Northern New England, our weather-related responses have risen considerably over the last three years. In 2023, we’ve seen a 50 percent increase in weather-related responses, compared to this time last year – and it’s changing the way we need to train and prepare our disaster volunteers. Unlike home fires, where recovery needs are typically limited to the individual or families impacted, these weather-related disasters are affecting entire communities – and often our volunteers too.
“As the frequency and intensity of disasters grow, more people need help more often,” said John Montes, Red Cross regional disaster officer, Northern New England 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 severe flooding and more intense winter storms 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 life saving actions — get a kit, make a plan and be informed — to help protect yourself against local emergencies. Follow safety tips now at redcross.org/prepare. You can also deliver relief and care to families facing climate disasters by becoming a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/VolunteerToday.