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Hurricane Matthew Response

In October, Hurricane Matthew became the strongest hurricane to hit American shores since Hurricane Felix in 2007 and the costliest since Super Storm Sandy in 2012, with an estimated pricetag of $10 billion in damages.

The storm dumped 13.6 trillion gallons of water on four states—Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina—including 14 inches on Fayetteville, N.C., the city’s rainiest single day on record. In Florida alone, it’s estimated 1,700 homes were destroyed or received significant damage.

dsc_6531The Red Cross immediately responded, mobilizing nearly 5,000 disaster workers and 235 Emergency Response Vehicles—roughly half the national fleet of ERVS. Through the first two weeks, it provided 93,000 overnight shelter stays, served more than 931,000 meals and snacks, and distributed more than 187,000 relief items.

capture76The storm generated a lot of media attention not just nationally, but within the region as well. Dayton Executive Director Laura Seyfang appeared on all four Dayton television stations as well as in the Dayton Daily News answering questions about the local response to the storm. NMVO Executive Director Lynne Gump was interviewed by the Dayton Daily News about blood donations. ORV Community Executive Debbie Smith spoke to the Portsmouth Daily Times about making monetary donations. Regional Disaster Officer John Bernard and Communications Director Skip Tate were interviewed on various topics as well.

Regional CEO Trish Smitson was on three news programs in Cincinnati—including a 5:00 a.m. live remote and a five-hour telethon on the Cincinnati ABC affiliate, WCPO. During the telethon, viewers called the station and donated $13,000 to the Red Cross, which was combined with a $5,000 matching grant by St. Elizabeth Healthcare for a total of $18,000 raised.


Arguably, the most innovative media coverage was an interview with Becca Strobridge, a disaster program specialist in Dayton, while she was in the passenger seat of an Emergency capture77Response Vehicle on its way to Florida. The real-time interview was done utilizing her cell phone and the Facetime app.

Through mid-October, a total of 26 people from the region were deployed to the East Coast to help with the disaster recovery operations. Hurricane Matthew is the 10th major disaster that volunteers and staff from the region have responded to during 2016, joining:

  • Flint, Michigan, water crisis in January
  • Alberta, Canada, wildfires in May
  • Texas flooding in May
  • West Virginia flooding in June
  • Orlando mass shooting in June
  • Kentucky flooding in July
  • Louisiana flooding in August
  • Indiana tornado in August
  • Iowa flooding in September
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