With winds of nearly 120 miles per hour and a storm surge of 12 feet, Cyclone Nargis made landfall on May 2, tearing through Myanmar’s main rice-growing region, home to about 24 million people—nearly half the country’s population and an area roughly the size of the state of Maryland.
People wash up and collect water on a street in Yangon after Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar's main city on Saturday. (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer, courtesy www.alertnet.org)
Since the storm hit, Red Cross volunteers, many of who may have also been impacted by the storm, continually work to distribute basic relief items such as mosquito nets, potable water and water purification tablets to cyclone survivors.
Almost immediately following the storm, the Myanmar Red Cross began distributing thousands of family kits containing clothing, blankets, cookware and hygiene supplies, and safe drinking water to schools and pagodas serving as emergency shelters.
To date, over 22,000 fatalities have been reported and 41,000 are still missing. An estimated one million people are in need of emergency shelter, as nearly all of the homes in the delta region have been destroyed. Access to running water and electricity in the area, days after the storm hit, are still reportedly being severely limited.
"As with similar disasters local Red Cross staff and volunteers are also affected," said Bridget Gardner, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ head of delegation in Myanmar. "In Yangon many lost their roofs, have no access to running water and nobody in Yangon has electricity unless they have a functioning generator and can afford the high price of fuel. The situation in the delta is of course much more tragic with thousands of people still missing."
Banning Together on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day
On May 8th, as the American Red Cross joins 185 other Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world in response to the cyclone that struck Myanmar, this day also marks the birth of Henry Dunant, founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Moved by the atrocities he witnessed during the Battle of Solferino in 1859, Dunant began advocating for the humane treatment of the sick and wounded during wartime.
After hearing of the International Red Cross Movement while visiting Europe, Clara Barton established the American Red Cross, which became part of the world's largest humanitarian network that aims to alleviate the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises and along with other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, works to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations.
It is through this network that the American Red Cross will continue to work with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to supply much needed relief to the communities affected by Cyclone Nagris. You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, such as the Myanmar Cyclone, please do so at the time of your donation.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; 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 humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.