American Red Cross Projects Hurricane Katrina Most Costly Relief Effort in its History

American Red Cross
Monday, 19 September 2005

Estimates more than $2 billion needed for emergency needs

The American Red Cross estimates that more than $2 billion will be required to meet its cost for the emergency needs of Hurricane Katrina survivors. This is a sum 20 times greater than the relief provided by the Red Cross for all hurricanes in 2004. This assessment is based on the nearly one million people who require meals, shelter, financial assistance and other essential services over various periods of time.

The role of the Red Cross is to build a bridge of assistance for victims of disasters until they can access more permanent aid provided by government agencies. After the emergency period ends, the Red Cross will assist by coordinating services with other agencies to help families affected by Hurricane Katrina. As of Monday, September 19, the Red Cross has received nearly $764.7 million, of which approximately 33 percent is in pledges. The Red Cross has spent and distributed more than $521 million already to meet emergency needs.

The Red Cross expects to meet the emergency needs of nearly one million families in three key areas:

  • Food and Shelter $744 million
    To date, the Red Cross has provided more than 2.2 million overnight stays in 902 shelters across the country. Nearly 12 million hot meals and 8.2 million snacks have been served. More than 138,000 Red Cross disaster relief workers nationwide are setting up shelters, processing and distributing supplies, and preparing and distributing food and water.
  • Emergency Financial Assistance to Disaster Survivors $1.4 billion
    The Red Cross has already provided $337 million in emergency financial assistance to more than 358,000 families. This emergency assistance helps survivors purchase items that are urgently needed such as food, clothing, and other essentials.
  • Physical and Mental Health Services $78 million
    More than 386,000 Hurricane Katrina survivors have received Red Cross disaster mental health services, prescription replacement, and first-aid services delivered by trained mental health professionals and volunteer nurses.

Because of the magnitude of this disaster, the Red Cross also estimates that the management related costs associated with this relief effort will likely amount to less than the approximately nine percent for a typical operation. These costs include activities such as volunteer recruitment, administering the financial assistance program, legal and auditing fees, fundraising and communications.

Time and time again the public has rallied behind the Red Cross to help their neighbors. The Red Cross continues to rely on their generosity to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of this disaster and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

For more information, or to contact American Red Cross, see their website at:

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