Disaster & Humanitarian Relief

Doctor Van

When a natural disaster strikes, the GE family plays a role in responding. Resources and employee support are mobilized to assist the affected communities. In many cases, GE is in a unique position to address the particular needs created by natural disasters, as our capabilities include technology, expertise and products in areas such as energy, water, lighting and healthcare.

The GE Foundation generously matches GE employee and retiree gifts to eligible disaster-relief organizations such as the International Red Cross, UNICEF, AmeriCares and Save the Children. It also proactively grants aid to relief organizations on an annual basis and in response to emergency situations.

Recent examples of GE disaster relief efforts include:

Oklahoma Disaster Relief

Oklahoma Tornado

May 2013

After a severe tornado caused destruction in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, GE and the GE Foundation committed equipment and funding to support relief and recovery efforts. This included donating GE Healthcare medical equipment and accessories to Norman Regional Hospital, which saw an influx of patients due to the complete devastation of Moore Medical Center by the storm. The GE Foundation also announced a $250,000 donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Giving Program in addition to its annual $1 million grant to the organization. 


Superstorm Sandy

October 2012

The GE Foundation donated a total of $5.8 million in support of Superstorm Sandy relief-and-recovery efforts in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, including $4 million to the Robin Hood Foundation to support longer-term housing, physical and mental health services, food banks, and local economic recovery in hard-hit communities.

AmeriCares USAccess

December 2011

The GE Foundation’s partnership with AmeriCares exemplifies an “invisible but impactful” additional approach to supporting disaster relief by helping AmeriCares build capacity through improved processes and operational efficiencies. AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization—delivering medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in need around the world and across the United States. The GE Foundation grant helped AmeriCares handle increased volumes of donated medicine and supplies, strengthen delivery through network expansion and IT enhancements, and relieve key capacity constraints for free clinics with more efficient access to resources. 

With GE’s support, AmeriCares installed USAccess software and implemented several activities resulting in an 86% gain in internal processing time, enabling the team to replenish medical supplies and respond to emergencies at a much faster rate. The substantial improvements translated into reduced order-processing time and order-to-shipment time from 30 days to four days. It also reduced the length of time products stay in the warehouse, from 180 days to 65 days. 

Quicker turnaround time on requests also resulted in a significant improvement in the number of days before expiration of donated products once they reached their destination. Evaluation also showed a massive expansion of eligible clinics in the AmeriCares network, from 139 in 2010 to 491 by the end of 2011. This increase will provide a significant source of supplies and medications for clinics across the U.S. 

Joplin, Missouri Tornado

May 2011

GE is a member of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). Thanks to annual $1 million contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) from ADGP members, the Red Cross can respond immediately to the needs of individuals and families affected by disasters anywhere in the United States. Since the Annual Disaster Giving Program’s inception in 1997, members have pledged donations to the Red Cross in advance of major disasters to ensure that an immediate response will meet the needs of people who are affected by disasters of all sizes, at no cost to them and regardless of income.

One example of how GE’s contribution to the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program enables immediate response is Joplin, Missouri. In May 2011, a major tornado hit Joplin, killing at least 116 people and blasting much of the town off the map. According to the Associated Press, it was the nation’s deadliest single tornado in nearly 60 years. The American Red Cross responded quickly by coordinating with emergency officials and local community partners to help people impacted by the tornado get back on their feet. Some immediate actions included providing shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to people in need. 


Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

March 2011

A record 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit near the Japanese city of Sendai, followed by a powerful 32-foot tsunami that struck northern Japan, leaving more than 10,000 people dead, over 17,000 missing, and nearly 250,000 homeless. Immediately following the disaster, the GE Foundation pledged $5 million in cash, equipment and services toward relief over the following weeks and months. This included a total of more than USD $1 million in product donations, e.g., V-scan handheld ultrasounds, larger ultrasound units, boroscope cameras that can help peer inside collapsed buildings, and a range of urgently needed supplies such as anesthesia consumables to avert stock-out situations in Miyagi prefecture hospitals.

During GE chairman and president Jeff Immelt’s visit to Japan, the GE Foundation pledged an additional $5 million for the long-term relief and recovery of the affected area, including medical and energy equipment, and continued support to relief agencies. Additionally, GE employees from 41 countries pledged more than $1 million in cash to disaster-relief organizations associated with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. With the GE Foundation Matching Gifts, the total surpassed $2 million.


Pakistan Flood

July 2010

In July 2010, extensive flash flooding caused by severe monsoon-season rains brought devastation to Pakistan. The monsoon rains produced the worst flooding in the region in over 80 years, killing more than a thousand people and forcing surviving villagers to flee what was left of their homes. As a result, 20 million lives and over 62,000 square miles have been affected. In response, the GE Foundation awarded $1.25 million in total to relief organizations: $250,000 was given to the International Rescue Committee and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent in support of immediate relief efforts; the additional $1 million was awarded to the World Food Programme to provide much-needed food relief amidst looming concerns over food shortages in the region.


Chile Earthquake

February 2010

An 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck Chile in February 2010, killing over 750 people and impacting more than 2 million; the quake also triggered tsunami warnings for the entire Pacific basin. Over 180 employees across multiple GE businesses are located in the country, and efforts to secure the safety of these employees, their families and company structures were successful. In response to the natural disasters, GE announced a $2 million commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. As part of this commitment, $1.25 million went directly to support the emergency-response needs in Chile; the remainder was contributed to the American Red Cross Disaster Response Fund, which provides assistance in the critical first hours and days before and after a disaster strikes.


Haiti Earthquake

January 2010

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit Haiti in January 2010, killing over 150,000 people and leaving an estimated 1.5 million people homeless. The GE family provided more than $5.5 million to relief efforts, including financial commitments from GE Foundation of $1 million to the Red Cross, $500,000 to UNICEF, employee donations of $1.4 million (with a $1.4 million match from GE Foundation), and over $1 million in equipment donations of solar-powered water-purification units, anesthesia/ventilators, portable ultrasounds, monitors, and analog and mobile digital X-rays.

See the immediate impact of GE Sunspring water-purification units in Haiti.

Learn more in this GE Reports story: “Sipping on Sun-Water at SOS Children’s Village.”


Italy Earthquake

April 2009

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 hit central Italy in April 2009, injuring 1,500 people, leaving more than 90 dead and tens of thousands homeless. The GE family provided approximately $600,000 to relief efforts in affected areas. In addition, GE donated 10 compact ultrasound systems and three mobile movie theaters for use by local residents.


Floods in the Midwestern United States

June 2008

When devastating flooding affected seven Midwestern states and forced 30,000 people from their homes in June 2008, the GE family stepped in to help in the relief effort. GE Foundation gave the American Red Cross a $250,000 grant to help support its response. In addition, GE Volunteers participated in rescue operations, created a recovery plan, built a database of flood-damaged homes and helped with the cleanup effort.


Earthquake in Sichuan, China

May 2008

After a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the Sichuan province of China in May 2008, GE Foundation granted $1.45 million to the Red Cross Society of China and also provided a grant to Mercy Corps to help fund two programs for children and youth. In addition, the GE Company donated more than $2 million of products from GE Healthcare, GE Consumer & Industrial, and GE Water & Process Technologies to address the needs created in the region.

Relief Efforts Supported in 2007

January 2007

Bangladesh Cyclone

$100,000 GE Foundation grant to the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC)

Floods in Mexico

$100,000 GE Foundation grant to UNICEF

Central America

$25,000 GE Foundation grant to IFRC

Peru Earthquake

$100,000 GE Foundation grant to UNICEF

Hurricane Dean

$50,000 GE Foundation grant to the American Red Cross

Southeast Asia Flooding

$100,000 GE Foundation grant to CARE, and from GE, donation of five water-filtration units

Floods in the United Kingdom

$100,000 GE Foundation grant to two local relief organizations

Pakistan Flooding

$100,000 GE Foundation grant to the American Red Cross


The Darfur Region of Sudan—Late 2006 to Present

November 2006

To help with the humanitarian aid effort in this region, GE and GE Foundation have given more than $5.3 million in grants and donations since 2006. GE Foundation granted the International Medical Corps $700,000, and GE donated $500,000 in medical equipment. In addition, GE Foundation has given grants to UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee and CARE for their relief efforts in Darfur.


Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

August 2005

The GE family donated a total of more than $22 million to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, including more than $3.5 million donated by employees to the American Red Cross, with an additional $3.5 million in GE Foundation matching gifts. GE donated more than $10 million in medical devices, power-generation equipment, and water-purification and other services.


Tsunami in Indonesia

December 2004

The GE family provided a total of $51.4 million to help Indonesia recover after the 2004 tsunami. GE employees donated $3.8 million, and GE Foundation gave $3.8 million through matching gifts and a $1.1 million grant. GE donated $10.7 million of products and services, and an NBC (then majority-owned by GE) telethon raised $32 million for a total of $51.4 million in GE assistance.