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Story and photos by Chris Genin, American Red Cross Volunteer

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the massive damage it caused by wind, fire and flood, thousands of people lost their homes and belongings, cars, jobs and more. Their lives were put on hold as they work to start over and begin the path to a new normal. The American Red Cross mobilized before Hurricane Harvey came ashore and continues to provide shelter, food and care across the Texas Gulf Coast region.

For the first time in its history, the Red Cross implemented a web-based application process to quickly get $400 to households that were impacted by Harvey. The money is to help people meet immediate needs for food, clothing, gas, school supplies and other necessities.

Thank You Note

For many people, this money proved to be very impactful in the recovery process. One recipient mailed a hand-written thank you note to the Red Cross. She lost her home and almost all of her belongings but wrote, “The money is such a help in putting out lives back together. If carefully spent $400 goes a long way. Thank you again for your generous help!”

Kristy Bell, a single mother of three, also received assistance from the Red Cross. She utilized her financial benefit to bridge the gap until she landed a new job.

“The $400 really did help, it made a difference. I can honestly say that.”

Kristy is working as a school bus driver, where she can bring her 4-year-old daughter Grace along with her. She is in the process of securing a second job as she waits for her duplex home to be available. Kristy also utilized some Red Cross partner services from Helping Hands, which is helping her locate a place to live, while FEMA helped repair the severe water damage to her car.

“I didn’t have a family support group near me. The Red Cross is my support group.”

Like Kristy, hundreds of thousands have received various forms of assistance from the Red Cross. With its partners, the Red Cross has served more than 6.6 million meals, provided 1.3 million overnight shelter stays and provided 3.4 million relief items including diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies and personal items in the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The Red Cross has also provided thousands health, mental health and spiritual care services.

As of October 9, the Red Cross had authorized payment of $400 to more than 477,000 households impacted by Hurricane Harvey for a total of more than $190 million in direct financial assistance.

The Red Cross continues its services across the Gulf Coast region and is supporting hurricane and wildfire relief efforts in Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and California. Thousands of Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground ensuring that people’s immediate needs are met in the wake of disaster.

To learn more about Red Cross relief and recovery efforts or to volunteer or make a financial gift, visit