On September 11th, 2001, two planes crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Nearly 3,000 people died in the deadliest incident on American soil since Pearl Harbor. The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, and Tzu Chi were the only charity organizations allowed access to Ground Zero.
Tzu Chi volunteers from New York, Long Island, and New Jersey banded together to deliver bottled water to relief workers.
Tzu Chi set up service stations at Pier 94, the Chinese Community Center in Chinatown, and the New Jersey Office of Recovery, and distributed $2.7 million in direct aid to those affected. Two years later, we were providing disaster relief again …
In October, 2003, wildfires swept through Southern California, burning thousands of acres across San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties.
Tzu Chi rushed to provide emergency aid, distributing more than $1 million to families affected.
In 2007, California wildfires raged again, forcing the evacuation of over 10,000 people, and leaving areas in Santa Barbara, Yorba Linda, Corona, and Brea in blackened ruins, with more than 1,000 homes burnt to the ground.
Tzu Chi volunteers collaborated with the American Red Cross to assess the damage, then gave out checks of $300– $500 to victims, providing emergency relief in their time of need.
In June 2008, flooding from the Mississippi River raised the water level of the Cedar River to its highest in 500 years, and over 100 blocks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa were underwater.
In 2009 in neighboring Kentucky, record flooding decimated Breathitt, one of the state’s poorest counties. Wendy Rice and Ervine Allen, residents of Jackson, each lost their home in the flood.
They both got an emergency boost from Tzu Chi, and five years later, they still remember and keep Tzu Chi in mind …
In 2013, a record-breaking downpour hit Colorado, causing destructive flash floods.
Volunteers organized distributions in two towns, and 150 families received cash cards of $500 each. 250 eco-scarves made from recycled plastic bottles and 205 Bamboo Banks were distributed as well. But recovery is a slow process …
In the Mud
In March 2014, a devastating landslide occurred four miles east of Oso, Washington. It covered nearly one square mile and caused 41 fatalities.
Tzu Chi volunteers from Seattle gave out blankets, copies of Jing Si Aphorisms, bamboo banks, and cash cards to those hit hardest. They gave people without heat plenty of warmth.
In 2013, Moore, Oklahoma was pulverized by an EF5 Tornado. It tore the town to pieces.
Tzu Chi volunteers from Texas and Oklahoma mobilized swiftly and gave cash cards and blankets to 124 families. These were of practical help, but also a sign of love and encouragement for the victims of this terrifying disaster.
In the Eye of the Storm
In 2005, the Big Easy hit the hardest of times, when a Category 5 hurricane struck the Gulf Coast. We’ll never forget Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina spared no one. It is recorded as the costliest natural disaster in United States history. The damage totaled $67.8 billion.
Tzu Chi distributed cash cards and checks to 3,838 households, committing $4 million to emergency relief efforts. Emotional comfort, however, is priceless.
But Louisiana isn’t the only place to experience devastating damage …
In September 2009, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the Pacific near American Samoa. The quake triggered a tsunami that flooded the island. Over 20 people died.
In American Samoa, Tzu Chi volunteers from Hawaii worked with NVOAD, to provide relief supplies and emergency cash for communities hit by the earthquake and the brutal tsunami that followed.