USA

Hurricane season officially ends, Red Cross work continues

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Written by Lesly C. Simmons , Staff Writer, RedCross.org

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 -- Americans everywhere, including thousands of Red Cross staff and volunteers, are breathing a sigh of relief as the most expensive and destructive Atlantic hurricane season officially comes to a close today, November 30th.

Since the season began six months ago, the United States has faced a seemingly endless rash of devastating storms that have altered the face of the Gulf Coast and forced the relocation of thousands of people across the country.

Over the past few months many notable weather events have occurred that profoundly affected the Red Cross and the whole nation.

  • May: The National Weather Service issued its annual prediction on hurricane activity, expecting 70 percent higher than normal possibility of storms attacking the Atlantic coast.

  • June: Two tropical storms develop in June, but only one -- Arlene -- strikes the U.S. Tropical Storm Brett left several inches of rain and caused flooding in Veracruz, Mexico, while Arlene left 10 inches of rain in some parts of the Gulf Coast. Both storms never reached the threshold of 74 mph winds required to become hurricanes.

  • July: Two hurricanes developed in July. Hurricane Dennis hit Florida near Pensacola as a Cat. 4 storm with 140 mph winds. Hurricane Emily made landfall in Mexico with minimal impact on the southernmost part of Texas. Three tropical storms also formed: Cindy, which hit the Gulf Coast region.

  • August: The National Weather Service reissued its outlook on the season , expecting even more storms than originally predicted in May. Then Hurricane Katrina arrived and became the single most destructive storm to property in U.S. history.

  • September: Hurricane Rita reached land as a Cat. 5 and hit many of the same areas so recently impacted by Katrina, and forced the evacuation of millions who had already fled the previous storm.

  • October: Hurricane Wilma arrived, using the last name on the 2005 list. With the traditional list of storm names exhausted, the first use of the Greek alphabet was required with the arrival of Tropical Storm Alpha.

  • November: Three more tropical storms developed, including Epsilon on the next to last day of hurricane season, Nov. 29.
The incredibly active season made for an extremely busy period for the Red Cross. Since Hurricane Katrina hit, the Red Cross has sheltered nearly 3.75 million people who were affected by that storm, and estimates that relief efforts will cost nearly $2 billion.

The Red Cross still has some shelters open, and continues to provide financial and emotional support to thousands of people across the country who are starting the long process of rebuilding their lives and communities. While so many people are still dealing with the effects of this year's storms, others are already looking ahead to the future and guessing about what may come.

"I would like to be able to stand up here and tell you that next year will not be any more severe than this year, but I can't do that," said Conrad Lautenbacher, NOAA administrator at a press conference Wednesday morning. "What we know from our current climate patterns that next year could just be just as active as this year."

Lautenbacher said the U.S. is working toward an international network for hurricane prediction with a global earth observation system, which could lead to better modeling and predictions for future hurricanes.

American Red Cross
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.