Red Cross Responds to Several Weekend Disasters

Assists Searchers Looking for Missing Child; Helps Victims of Epic Flooding

A major, historic flood event is ongoing in South Carolina and parts of North Carolina. And the search for a missing child ended successfully in Trumbull County. Volunteers from the American Red Cross assisted there, and with several other disasters over the weekend.

The child, two-year old Rainn Peterson was reported missing Friday night from the family home in North Bloomfield.  Some 60 searchers spent almost 48 hours looking for the little girl, and the Red Cross provided canteen services, including food, water and warmth inside an emergency response vehicle.

In addition, cots were provided to police and FBI agents who stayed at the Emergency Operations Center Saturday night.

On Sunday, just as the sun was setting, a volunteer found the the little girl about a quarter mile from the home. The Trumbull County sheriff said she was doing “as fine as can be expected” after spending nearly two days outdoors, with temperatures that dipped into the lower 40’s and a steady rain on Saturday.

“We all wanted to see heartbreak turn into hope, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Lake to River Chapter of the Red Cross. “That little girl was in our hearts the whole time.  It could have happened to any of us.”

While THAT story ended happily, the flooding on the East Coast is far from over.

This is now the wettest October on record in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, surpassing the previous record of 11.59 inches in 1959 – and it’s only the beginning of the month.

Flash flooding is ongoing and has become serious in many locations, including in Charleston, where numerous swift-water rescues were reported. Roads were closed all over the state, including portions of Interstates 77 and 20. A 75-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between Interstates 20 and 26 was closed. The heavily traveled highway through the eastern portion of the state was not closed during 1989’s Hurricane Hugo.

Widespread rainfall totals since Thursday are between 5 to 10 inches, with locally heavier amounts reported. Some coastal areas from Charleston to Myrtle Beach have recorded 10 to 16 inches. Additional heavy rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches is possible. These extreme rainfall amounts will continue to lead to widespread and catastrophic flooding and flash flooding.  It will take several days for water to recede in the region once the rain ends. A Federal Emergency Declaration has been declared for South Carolina.

“We are helping families across South Carolina that are in need of shelter, disaster relief and comfort,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer of the American Red Cross in South Carolina. “We are also welcoming members of the community who want to help to join us as Red Cross disaster volunteers.”

The American Red Cross has opened 35 emergency shelters, helping people stay safe and dry and providing meals and emotional support. More than 200 people spent the night Sunday in a Red Cross shelter. Nearly 400 Red Cross workers, 22 emergency response vehicles and supplies for 5,000 people have been mobilized.

Additional shelters are on standby and the Red Cross is working closely with government partners to ensure immediate needs of residents are being met.

Volunteers from every Red Cross region in the Midwest, including Northeast Ohio, responded to a variety of disasters over the weekend. We respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year, from home fires to wildfires, flooding and more.

In addition to flooding, we are still helping people impacted by the wildfires in California, a blizzard in Alaska, and the school shooting in Oregon, where volunteers are providing mental health support and assistance at community events.  And in Florida, more than a dozen Red Cross volunteers are providing emotional support and other assistance for the families of the seamen aboard the cargo ship El Faro, which sank during Hurricane Joaquin last week.

You can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

Local American Red Cross Volunteers Get Close to the Pope

Nurses Return After Deployment for Papal Visit

With a crowd of one million people or more expected in Philadelphia in late September for the visit of Pope Francis, the American Red Cross deployed a number of volunteers to support humanitarian needs.

Three of those volunteers are from the Northeast Ohio Region.

Kelly Weisenburger, Trish Wilson and Vincetta Tsouris are veterans of out-of town assignments.  Kelly, a nurse at Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk, has experience responding to hurricanes on the east coast and wildfires in California.  Trish, a nurse at the Ohio Veteran’s Home in Sandusky, has been deployed to Texas and Florida to provide hurricane relief, and helped residents of nearby Findlay when the Blanchard River flooded. And Vincetta’s first assignment was in response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The Steubenville resident served in the Air Force Reserve for 37 years, and is currently a nurse at Weirton Medical Center in West Virginia.

They arrived in Philadelphia on Friday, September 25, and were immediately dispatched to Pennsylvania Health Department Facilities that were set up as Medical Readiness Centers.   While the Red Cross volunteers were prepared to treat a large number of people in the event of a disaster, they say there was just a handful of people who needed only minor medical attention. A few people were reunified with loved ones after being separated in the massive crowd, thanks to the efforts of Red Cross volunteers.  And many homeless people who were displaced by the crowds were given food and water.

“Nothing really happened,” according to Kelly.  “And that was the perfect part of it.” As a long-time Red Cross volunteer, Kelly is aware of the burden her travels have placed on her family over the years.  But she says she is willing to serve, and her service has apparently rubbed off on her daughter, an optometry student at The Ohio State University, who has become a medical missionary.

Kelly, Trish and Vincetta never got closer than a couple of blocks from the Pope, but they were able to see coverage of the Pope’s movements in Philadelphia on one of the giant screens that were set up throughout the city.  As Vincetta put it, “If it wasn’t for my volunteering with the Red Cross, I never would have gotten anywhere near the Pope.”

The volunteers returned to Northeast Ohio on Monday, September 28th, tired but happy to be of service, and awaiting word on their next assignments.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit and click on “Volunteer” on the left side of the screen. You will then be prompted to begin the application process.

There’s no guarantee of being assigned to another Papal visit anytime soon.  But you WILL have the chance to help others.


Heroes in the Heartland Honored

Volunteers are the backbone of the American Red Cross. More than 340,000 people volunteered their time and talent to the Red Cross nationwide last year. Of that number, 350 volunteers are from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter, which covers seven counties, from Erie to the north to Holmes in the south. Many of them were honored during a celebration for “Everyday Heroes” on September 24.

Volunteers participate in a range of activities. They may provide assistance to people displaced by a disaster – like a home fire or flood – providing access to shelter, meals and other immediate needs. They provide disaster victim with mental health support, and help reunite family members separated by disasters. At large scale disasters, volunteers provide food and water to firefighters and other first responders. They help hold blood drives to make sure our hospitals have adequate supplies. Volunteers teach CPR and first aid, and provide services to military members and their families. And they travel, anywhere Red Cross services are needed.

Among the volunteers honored at Chapter headquarters in Wooster are Brenda Greegor, who logged more hours volunteering than any other board member. Pat Shaw was honored for being the most active blood services volunteer. Mike Priest was the volunteer who spent the most time at First Aid Stations. Ron Armentrout had most Chapter Services volunteer hours. And William “Bill” Chapman donated more hours working disasters than any other volunteer.

Bill also got top volunteer honors for most overall hours logged.

“Some of our volunteers have been with us for more than 40 years,” said Chapter Executive Director, Katie Myers-Griffith. “They provide invaluable services to the residents of the seven counties in our chapter. I can’t thank them enough.”

Those who attended the celebration for “Everyday Heroes” were treated to a picnic dinner, and several received raffle gifts provided by businesses in the community.
But the real gift is in knowing how dedicated Red Cross volunteers are always ready to help.

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If you are interested in volunteering in your community, please visit our website: and click on Volunteer on the left side of the screen. You may also call 216-431-3328 or email,

The Power of the Purse offered an amazing (philanthropic) Girls Night Out in Medina

On Thursday, September 24, the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter held its annual POWER OF THE PURSE event, sponsored by Signet Jewelers, at the elegant Weymouth Country Club in Medina. 

This sold-out event is seen as a great philanthropic Girls Night Out! With an emcee – Sarah Kay from the WQMX Morning Show, a DJ, the opportunity to Walk the Red Carpet for the Red Cross (for pictures from the Red Carpet, check out our Facebook page), and delicious hors d’oeuvres the night was a stunning success! More than 375 women turned out for this year’s fundraiser.

At the beginning of the evening over 80 purses stood ready to be auctioned off. The designer handbags were filled with fabulous swag from local merchants, local artists, and community members. The Bling Bazaar room offered beautiful statement pieces and jewelry options plus the chance to win a stunning diamond necklace from Signet Jewelers.

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By the end of the night, not a single purse was left. Every single purse sold, including the amazing Coach clutch, donated by members of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Board, which contained vouchers for four Goodyear tires and club seats to see the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Miami Heat. (In case you’re interested, the final bid for the the Board donated purse was $2,000!)

The final count has not been tallied, but early estimates for the evening have the total raised more than $50,000.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the services offered by the Red Cross in Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties.

American Red Cross Volunteers Teach WKYC Workers CPR

Part of the Station’s Safety Week Observance

First, a fire drill on live TV.  Then, Citizen CPR courses taught in the same studio used by the cast and crew of “Live on Lakeside” and Fox Sports Ohio.  It was all part of Safety Week activities initiated by Channel 3 and the American Red Cross.

During three separate sessions, trained Red Cross volunteers gave dozens of station employees the skills to help save lives by putting more cardiac arrest victims within a few steps of lifesaving assistance.

Volunteers Jerry and Diana Goodman, Beth Ann Barto, Pam Hendrix and Walter Reddick led the lessons on the hands-only technique, teaching TV 3 staffers to first check victims for consciousness, next to call 9-1-1, and then to give continuous chest compressions to patients experiencing cardiac arrest.

“Citizen CPR courses give untrained bystanders the ability to buy time for victims of cardiac arrest,” said Pat Buckhold, Director of Volunteer Services in Northeast Ohio. “Chest compressions can help keep a patient alive until trained medical help arrives.”

Pat led one of the sessions, explaining that the target is 100 chest compressions per minute.  “There are a few songs you can hum in your head to help you keep the proper pace,” she said.  “My favorite for this exercise is ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees.”

The Citizen CPR courses followed a fire drill, held during a live broadcast of “Live on Lakeside.” It was meant to determine how responsive the staff of the TV station would be.  While employees filed out of the building, Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross joined Micki Byrnes to explain to the audience the importance of responding to fire alarms immediately.

The fire drill and the Citizen CPR courses at Channel 3 took part during National Preparedness Month. See our previous posts on being prepared for disasters.

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Military Families Can Now Send Emergency Messages Online


American Red Cross Introduces Hero Care Network

The Red Cross has an unwavering commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families.  Always has, ever since founder Clara Barton began to recruit nurses to support Army soldiers.  And now, more than 130 years later, a new digital tool has been developed to give military families the ability to get an emergency message to loved ones immediately from a computer, tablet or smartphone.

The Hero Care Network provides a new online option for emergency communication among military families, as well as the toll free Red Cross Emergency number at 877-272-7337.

“Close to 1,200 military families from Northeast Ohio reached out to the Red Cross for emergency assistance last year, and more than 900 needed to make an emergency contact with a loved one in uniform,” according to Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to Armed Forces for Northeast Ohio.  “Our military families are among the 110,000 families nationwide, some 300 every day, who rely on the Red Cross during their time of need.” Any member of any branch of the military on active duty is eligible to receive an emergency communication message from family members through the Red Cross Hero Care Network.  This includes activated members of the Guard and Reserve of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, along with civilians employed by or under contract to the Department of Defense and stationed outside of the continental United States, and any family member residing with them.  A Cadet or midshipman at a service academy, an ROTC cadet on orders for training and Merchant Marines aboard U.S. Naval ships are also eligible for emergency communications assistance through the Red Cross.

The new online tool, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at is a secure way for family members of the men and women who serve our country to notify their loved ones about the birth of a child or grandchild, a serious illness, or the death of an immediate family member.  The Red Cross has taken multiple steps to ensure the safety and security of all personal information.

While many military families are in constant contact through email and text messaging, information verified by the Red Cross assists service men and women and their commanding officers when it comes to making a decision regarding emergency leave. And with the new online tool, users who initiate an emergency message can monitor the status of their message as it goes through the verification and delivery process.

“It’s important to remember that people can always speak to a Red Cross worker at any time during the process,” according to Koby J. Langley, Senior Vice President of Service to Armed Forces for the American Red Cross. “regardless of how families initiate an emergency message, military members can depend on the Red Cross to relay urgent messages to service members serving anywhere in the world.”

For more information about Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, contact Jessica Tischler at, or visit

Top Ten Fire Safety Tip List

For Home and Work

The biggest disaster threat in the United States isn’t tornado, hurricane or flood: it is fire. The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year.  Most are home fires.  In Northeast Ohio, Red Cross workers and volunteers help an average of 3 families, victims of home fires every night.

Mike Parks, Chief Executive of the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region recently appeared on WKYC Channel 3 to help the station kick-off its Safety Week activities.  Station management has a genuine concern for the well-being of the Channel 3 workforce, so they turned to the Red Cross during National Preparedness Month to help improve worker readiness in the face of an emergency.

During Mike’s visit to the station on Monday, September 14, the fire alarm was sounded.  Employees were not warned in advance.  The exercise was meant to assess their reaction. Hosts Michael Cardamone and Hollie Giangreco vacated the premises promptly, along with the studio crew and support staff.  Mike then went on the air with station President and General Manager Micki Byrnes to explain the importance of responding immediately to a fire alarm, and to credit the employees who evacuated without hesitation.

“This is something all companies should be doing,” he said.  “All organizations should have a plan in place.”

Fire prevention and escape plans aren’t just for the workplace: every home should have a plan as well.

Here is a Top Ten list of Fire Safety Tips:

  1. Install smoke alarms on every floor
  2. Change the batteries at least once a year, and install a new one if the low-battery alarm chirps
  3. Test alarms once a month
  4. Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do if they hear it
  5. Establish at least two escape routes from your home
  6. Consider emergency escape ladders for rooms on the second floor and above
  7. Select a meeting spot where your family can safely gather after escaping
  8. Practice your escape plan twice a year: time each drill until every family member can escape within two minutes
  9. Make an emergency kit. Get the basics from our previous blog posting here.
  10. Visit to find out more about how to protect you and your family from fire

Every year, the Red Cross spends an average of $370 million helping people and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from nearly 70,000 disasters across the country and around the world. Help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation towards disaster relief.

And be watching Channel 3 News for more coverage of National Preparedness Month. Employees are being offered classes in First Aid and CPR through the American Red Cross.