WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross is over budget when it comes to helping disaster victims.
Officials say recent house fires and winter storms have put a burden on their organization totaling nearly $100,000.
According to a press release, officials say they've seen an increase in disaster-related costs.
Since July 1, 2013, the American Red Cross has responded to 605 disaster incidents in eastern NC, the majority of which were home fires.
Officials say they've also provided 1,641 residents with immediate emergency assistance including shelter, food, clothing, supplies, referrals, comfort items and emotional support.
During the winter storms, the Red Cross supported 10 shelters which housed mainly elderly, disabled, and residents with medical needs whose power was out due to the accumulation of ice.
In addition, they also assisted 10 other families whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed from fallen trees and fires that started as a direct result of the winter storms.
"With larger scaled disasters like a winter storm, those are not things that occur frequently in our area," Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross Vicki Labelle said. "So, it's not something we have prepared for from a financial perspective."
Despite those challenges, officials say they've been able to meet the needs of their local communities.
They hope to refill their disaster relief funds through projects in March, deemed "Red Cross Month" by the President each year.
Red Cross chapters say they use this time to honor a longstanding tradition of heroism by recognizing local individuals whose extraordinary acts make them a hero. The Heroes Campaign runs through the spring.
According to a press release, 61 Red Cross Heroes from around the region including New Bern, Jacksonville, Greenville, Rocky Mount, and Elizabeth City traveled to areas in southeastern NC to assist in counties that experienced the greatest number of power outages.
"We could not help so many without the generous support of our donors, and we continue to need the community's support to help so many displaced after home fires," Joy Branham, Chief Executive Officer with the Red Cross, said.
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