2023 Emerging Needs: American Red Cross volunteers respond to record year of disasters  

Thousands of people answered the call to help upended lives across the country

By Martin Gagliano, Public Affairs, American Red Cross, Northern California Coastal Region

Through it all this year, Red Cross volunteers provided shelter, food, emotional support and financial assistance for families in need. During the holiday season, many are on the ground delivering relief in hard-hit places like Hawaii and Florida, where families remain displaced from their homes, or they’re responding to other crises like home fires, which comprise most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to annually in the U.S.

Volunteers — who comprise 90% of the Red Cross workforce — are critical to ensuring families receive care and hope in the face of more frequent and intense disasters. In fact, the annual number of extreme weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each has increased by 80% over the past decade.

OUR YEAR IN NUMBERS: From coast to coast, the climate crisis took a devastating toll in 2023, sparking a record number of major disasters—many of which had a disproportionate impact on our neighbors already coping with vulnerable circumstances. From hurricanes to wildfires, atmospheric rivers to tornadoes, and other disasters of all kinds, the Northern California Coastal Region was there to:

  • Serve more than 95,000 meals and 108,000 snacks with partners.
  • Distribute $1.36 million in financial assistance to hundreds of people affected by local disasters.
  • Provide more than 32,800 overnight shelter and emergency hotel stays with partners.
  • Provide more than 44,600 relief supplies to over 16,800 households.

Visit our Year-In-Review page for more information about how the Red Cross helped people across the Northern California Coastal Region in 2023.

View our disaster response efforts on a national scale for calendar year 2023 through this infographic.


Here are some local stories sharing how volunteers have made a difference for communities reeling from this year’s disaster:

  • From Training to Deploying: Farshad Fallah signed up to volunteer with the Red Cross in August 2023. In September, after attending at a one-day cram session that the Disaster Cycle Services team offered in San Jose, he deployed to Maui, to help those affected by the devastating wildfires. A couple weeks into his deployment, Farshad was sent to work alongside other organizations, including FEMA and the Salvation Army, at the Lahaina Civic Center. He described this as a very humbling experience.  He did not expect to have a Red Cross adventure so soon after he completed that volunteer application in August but is grateful he took advantage of the opportunity. Farshad highly recommends taking the cram session and the tasks as they come to anyone who wants to make a difference with the Red Cross. He will continue his work as a volunteer and hopes to have more opportunities in the future that allow him to travel and help others in need of disaster assistance.
  • Six Lives Saved: The smoke alarms installed by Red Cross volunteers in Marie Monthier’s home after a Sound the Alarm installation event in Marin County saved her and five other family members from a home fire. The Red Cross role in home fire response does not end with smoke alarms. When firefighters on scene at the Monthier home reached out to the Red Cross for help, volunteers Kay Tsenin and Jody Wilson were on site within the hour.
  • Resides Displaced by Storms: The Galvan Alvarez family was sound asleep in their South San Francisco apartment in the early hours of January 10 when they were jolted awake as the entire roof blew off their apartment building.  The family called the fire department, which quickly responded and referred them to the nearby Red Cross shelter that had been opened to provide refuge from the storm for all who needed it. The family arrived at about 4 a.m. and were provided supplies, such as diapers, food and toiletries, and cots. In the morning they had warm showers and breakfast.  “The Red Cross has been excellent,” Jose said. “I’ve got nothing but nice things to say about the Red Cross.” Jose said he had also been helped by the Red Cross years ago, when he had a fire in his apartment. Jose then excused himself to grab a broom and dustpan and clean up around his family’s cots. “The Red Cross is helping, so I can help, too,” he said.


Our lifesaving mission wouldn’t be possible without generous volunteers and donors. This holiday season, turn your compassion into action by donating at redcross.org/gift. A donation of any size makes a difference. You can also register to become a volunteer at redcross.org/volunteer.


Corporate, foundation and organizational members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and Disaster Responder Program pledge essential contributions in advance of disasters, powering our organization with strong infrastructure, trained volunteers, innovative technology and critical resources necessary to provide immediate relief and support to those in crisis. This support also means we can stand with survivors and their communities as they begin to recover, and help families and communities become better prepared and more resilient ahead of the next disaster.

Annual Disaster Giving Program Partners: Delta Dental, Google.org, Kaiser Permanente, PayPal, Salesforce, The Clorox Company, Visa and Visa Foundation, Wells Fargo.

Disaster Responder Program Partners: Adobe, Cisco Foundation, HP Foundation, Rodan+Fields Prescription for Change Project, Ross Stores Foundation, ServiceNow.


Standing beside the Red Cross in this work demonstrates your company’s commitment to our humanitarian mission and leaves a lasting impression on employees, customers, and clients.

Visit our website and learn more about how a partnership with the Red Cross can help your company and our community at the same time.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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AmRedCross NCCR 2023 Year in Review

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