Busy hurricane season on the horizon; Red Cross says get ready now, volunteer

June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Northern New England residents should prepare for an extremely active hurricane season as the climate crisis threatens to upend more communities. The best defense during an emergency is to be prepared and the American Red Cross advises everyone to get ready now.

Forecasters warn that the combination of warm sea temperatures and the arrival of La Nina conditions could mean more named storms and an above-average probability for landfall in the U.S.

“With warmer sea surface temperatures, we are getting more intense storms that are building faster,” said Daniel Gilford, a climate scientist with Climate Central. “Also, as the temperature of the atmosphere warms, the tropics expand. That means hurricanes can move further north and regions, like the New England coast, that wouldn’t have gotten very many historic hurricanes, are seeing a small uptick in the numbers of storms that reach the region. We expect this trend to continue over time with the climate crisis.”

Photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill/National Guard.
The aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Pittsfield on Sept. 2, 2011.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill/National Guard
The aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Pittsfield on Sept. 2, 2011.

The number of billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. has increased 85 percent in just the last decade as disasters grow in frequency and intensity. People across the country are feeling the impact as an estimated 2.5 million were forced from their homes by weather-related disasters in 2023 — with more than a third displaced for longer than a month.

“Today, the Red Cross is responding to more large disasters — almost twice as many — than we did a decade ago,” said John Montes, regional disaster officer, Red Cross Northern New England Region. “This growing need for help means we need more volunteers trained and ready to support families facing their darkest moments. Additionally, it’s critical for residents right here in Vermont to make and practice their emergency plans now.”

Comprising 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce, volunteers are continuously providing shelter, comfort, hot meals, health services and recovery support to families in need across the country. In the last year, the Red Cross of Northern New England saw 549 volunteer deployments — a five-year high and nearly four times the deployments compared to 2019. These Red Cross volunteers supported disasters at home, including historic flooding events in Vermont and Maine, several large-scale, multi-family fires and a mass casualty response. They also deployed outside our region to support a variety of disasters like Hurricane Idalia, Typhoon Mawar, wildfires in California and Hawaii, and tornadoes in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

Volunteer today

The Red Cross is seeking new volunteers who are team-oriented and want to make an immediate difference. Visit the Red Cross website to sign up. Free online training will be provided, and there is a critical need for these positions:

• Local disaster action team volunteers help families in need by providing food, lodging, comfort, recovery assistance and other support.

• Shelter services volunteers support the day-to-day activities in an emergency shelter for those forced from their homes by disasters.

• Disaster health or mental health services volunteers use their professional skills as a licensed healthcare providers to deliver hands-on care to people in shelters.

Prepare your household

With the increasing risk of climate-driven disasters, help keep your family safe by getting prepared today. Information about being prepared at redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies.html.

Build an emergency kit with bottled water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and battery-powered radio. Also include medications, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers and emergency contact information.

Make an evacuation plan with what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you must evacuate. Make sure to coordinate with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans — and don’t forget your pets.

Know how to stay informed by finding out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.

Plus, download the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the free emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and more safety tips. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross.