From NEO to La: Red Cross Response to Louisiana Flooding Continues

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August 22, 2016.  Breaux Bridge, St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.  Red Cross Volunteer Jodi Bocco visits with 5 year-old Larlasia.  Photo credit: Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

The Number of Northeast Ohio Volunteers Responding Continues to Grow

American Red Cross workers continue to work around the clock in flood ravaged communities of Louisiana to provide shelter, meals, comfort and support services for people who have lost so much during this devastating event. 20 volunteers from the Northeast Ohio Region have been deployed to the operation.

It’s been over a week since historic flooding devastated tens of thousands of lives in Louisiana, and the work of the Red Cross is just beginning. Shelters are still open and as many as 2,500 people were still seeking refuge in 18 Red Cross and community shelters on Tuesday night.

Within shelters, residents can access meals, relief supplies and information. Red Cross volunteers are also providing emotional support to help people cope. More than 2,300 Red Crossers – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – have supported relief efforts since the flooding began; over 90 percent of these trained disaster workers are volunteers.

Each day, the Red Cross is able to get into more and more neighborhoods, and volunteers are working tirelessly to provide assistance. Where possible, the Red Cross is beginning to distribute food and relief supplies, such as personal hygiene items, insect repellant, cleaning kits and bleach, to people at their homes. More than 90 response vehicles, including 2 from Northeast Ohio are fanning out through affected neighborhoods.

Since the floodwaters destroyed and damaged thousands of homes, together with local, state and national partners, the Red Cross has already:

  • Provided more than 47,700 overnight shelter stays;
  • Distributed more than 126,000 relief items;
  • Served nearly 356,500 meals and snacks;
  • Handled more than 17,000 calls from people seeking information and help.

Disaster mental health and health services volunteers are providing emotional support and helping to replace things like lost eyeglasses, wheelchairs and medications.

Early estimates predict the massive Red Cross relief effort in Louisiana could cost at least $30 million – and we haven’t raised nearly enough in donations to cover this cost. This cost estimate may grow as we learn more about the scope and magnitude of the devastation. It includes the costs of providing food, shelter, blankets, cots, emotional support, health services, initial casework and relief supplies. It also includes some of the less visible costs that make relief possible including logistics, staff and technology expenses.

You can help the Red Cross respond to disasters big and small by donating to disaster relief at redcross.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.  You can also make a $10 donation directly to the Louisiana Flood relief effort by texting LAFLOODS to 90999.

The road to recovery will be long and arduous for residents in Louisiana, but they won’t face it alone. The Red Cross will remain in impacted communities in the weeks and months to come to provide people with the resources and support they need to return to a sense of normalcy.

Fire Drives Residents from Home, Draws Red Cross Workers for Help

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This resident of a home on E. 82nd St. in Cleveland received Red Cross assistance, including money to buy shoes, after fleeing his burning home in bare feet.

He stood in his bare feet as he watched his home burn.  The man, one of three residents of a multi-family house on E. 82nd Street in Cleveland, was awakened by firefighters pounding on his door just after dawn Monday morning, and fled with no shoes or socks on his feet.

Two other residents,  Therens Vitanzan and Larry Anderson also escaped.  All three received financial assistance from the Red Cross, to help them with their immediate needs; a safe place to stay, a warm meal, and for one of the residents, shoes.

“That’s why we go,” said Disaster Program Manager Jeremy Bayer of the Greater Cleveland Chapter. “People who just lost their home, all their possessions, they need our help and the hope we can give them during their darkest hour.”

In addition to financial aid, the suddenly homeless residents received a small plastic bag filled with personal items like a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.

Mr. Vitanzan, who was wrapped in a blanket, sat quietly in a van that doubles as an intake office at disaster locations, while Walter Reddick, a Red Cross volunteer, offered what comfort he could.  Walter also helped Mr. Anderson, who was grateful to escape from his burning home with his prized possession: his guitar.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

In the coming days, all three residents will receive follow-up care from Red Cross case workers, who will help them develop a plan for recovery from the fire that forced them from their homes.

They were fortunate to escape without suffering serious injuries.Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire.

Incidents like this highlight the importance of having working smoke alarms in every residence in Northeast Ohio, and the Red Cross is ready, willing and able to install free smoke alarms and provide valuable fire safety information to residents in their homes. Northeast Ohio residents can visit the Operation Save-A-Life website to contact their local Red Cross chapter and schedule an appointment for a free home safety inspection, free smoke alarms and free installation.

It’s our goal to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25% over a five-year period.  Last year,  the Red Cross and its partners saved at least 102 lives as part of its nationwide Home Fire Campaign, and in Northeast Ohio, 12 lives were saved and more than 12,500 free smoke alarms were installed in homes throughout the Region.

 

How Can You Help Baton Rouge?

The Red Cross continues to provide hope, shelter and meals to those affected in Louisiana.

If you are asking yourself, “How can I help them?” Well, it’s as easy as sending a text (if you can’t do it yourself, may I recommend finding your nearest 5-year-old as they are shockingly amazing at it.) Simply text LAFLOODS to 90999 and a ten dollar donation to the American Red Cross will appear on your next cellular phone bill. Those with iPhones can also make a $5-$200 donation through iTunes and the App Store.

This donation will help us provide services and relief items to those affected by flooding in Louisiana.

Seven days in to the response, Red Cross shelters have hosted over 42,000 overnight stays. Nearly 2,800 remain in shelters. This is a number not typically seen this many days into an operation.

We have distributed 250,000 meals and snacks in shelters and communities.

Many are starting the work of rebuilding their lives; this is the next phase of a disaster response. Teams of Red Cross workers, including more than a dozen volunteers from Northeast Ohio, are in communities where the waters have receded, surveying the damage done and helping families navigate available financial and well-being assistance. Red Cross trucks from around the country are out providing meals and cleaning supplies to those tackling the job of repairing their homes.

The current estimate for the Red Cross response in Louisiana stands at $30 million.

NEO Red Cross Continues to Support Victims in Louisiana

According to meteorologists, more than 6.9 trillion gallons of rain – enough water to fill 10.4 million Olympic pools – deluged Louisiana this week.

On Wednesday night, more than 4,100 people were still seeking refuge in 30 Red Cross and community shelters in Louisiana. And the flooding danger is not over. More rain is falling in Louisiana and flood waters are moving down-river, which could cause damage in new areas. The Red Cross is closely monitoring the situation to be ready to mount an additional response if necessary.

Red Cross volunteers – including 16 from right here in Northeast Ohio – continue to help thousands of people in Louisiana in what is the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. This response is anticipated to cost at least $30 million – and this number may grow as we learn more about the scope and magnitude of the devastation.

The flooding in Louisiana has left many areas without power and phone service, making it difficult for loved ones to connect. Local emergency lines have also been inundated with calls for help. The Red Cross has two ways to help families reconnect:

  • The Red Cross Emergency App features a “Family Safe” feature that allows people to check on loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency and instantly see if they are okay – even if that loved one hasn’t downloaded the App on their device. The App is free and can be found in the app store for your mobile device by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to redcross.org/apps.
  • The Red Cross is encouraging people to register on our Safe and Well website, www.redcross.org/safeandwell, to help people reconnect. If you are concerned about a loved one, visit the “Search” page, enter the person’s name and pre-disaster phone number or complete address. If you are outside the disaster area and you hear from loved ones without access to a computer, you can register them through Safe and Well. That way, other loved ones can be reassured as well.

Large disasters like this flooding create more needs than any one organization can meet, and the Red Cross is working closely with the entire response community – federal, state, county and local agencies, other non-profit organizations, churches, area businesses and others – to coordinate relief efforts and deliver help quickly and efficiently, keeping in mind the diverse needs of the community.

The Red Cross urgently needs the public to join us in supporting Louisiana by making a financial donation today. Help people affected by the Louisiana Floods by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.

 

NEO Volunteers Deploy to Louisiana Flooding

Red Cross disaster workers — including 8 from here in Northeast Ohio — are helping thousands of Louisiana residents with a safe place to stay and food to eat despite closed roads and continued flooding making it challenging to get relief supplies to where they are needed.

Volunteers, Sue and Linda left from the Cleveland office in an emergency response vehicle this morning. A second team left from Youngstown.

The truck (lovingly referred to as an ERV by Red Cross staff) will be used transport cleaning items like mops, buckets and bleach or hot meals prepared by our partners at one of the eight Southern Baptist kitchens out in to the communities affected by the flood.

The current flooding in Louisiana is the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy.

Monday night more than 8,400 people sought refuge in 36 Red Cross and community shelters in Louisiana. More than 1,000 Red Cross disaster volunteers have been mobilized from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to help with the Louisiana relief efforts. The Red Cross is also mobilizing over 60 ERVS — like the two that left Northeast Ohio this morning — with nearly 40,000 ready-to-eat meals, and dozens of trailers filled with shelter and kitchen supplies.

“People in Louisiana urgently need our help now,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO. “Please consider making a financial donation to the Red Cross today.”

HOW TO HELP People in Louisiana are facing a dire situation. Floodwaters still cover neighborhoods. An estimated 25,000 homes are damaged, affecting at least 75,000 people. Thousands of people have no power when it feels like 99 degrees outside and more than 100 roads are closed. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recovery from these disasters.

FINDING LOVED ONES Residents of the affected areas can connect with their loved ones by using the “I’m Safe” button on the Red Cross Emergency App which is free and can be found in the app store for someone’s mobile device by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to redcross.org/apps.

People can also visit http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell to register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and private way that friends and family connect. The site also allows people to update their status on Facebook and Twitter.

JOINT RELIEF EFFORT The Red Cross is working closely with the entire response community to coordinate relief efforts and deliver help quickly and efficiently, keeping in mind the diverse needs of the community. Some of the organizations sending help to the area include Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the NAACP, Islamic Relief USA, Church of the Brethren Children’s Disaster Services, Save the Children, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, AFL-CIO, Verizon, Duracell, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Baton Route YMCA and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints volunteers.

BECOME A VOLUNTEER To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/neo and click on VOLUNTEER today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

Wanted: AmeriCorps Workers for NEO American Red Cross Corps

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WHO: Highly energized and passionate individuals who are prepared to serve full-time (including nights and weekends) to serve the mission of the American Red Cross

WHAT: Red Cross Corps (RCC) is a National AmeriCorps program with a goal of building capacity to deliver Preparedness Education across the country. Members will aim to reach 750 youth and 250 adults with Preparedness Education. In addition, each member will train 5 volunteers to help make Preparedness Education a sustainable community program.

WHEN: Members start on September 12, 2016 and serve 11 months, completing the program on August 11, 2017

WHERE:  Greater Cleveland Chapter

3747 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115

 Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter
                  501 West Market St.
Akron, Ohio 44303

Click here for a full listing of American Red Cross AmeriCorps programs (National and State)

WHY: Red Cross Corps members will have an unique opportunity to impact their communities with life-saving preparedness education. By serving with the Red Cross, members are not only part of a national movement of service, but will also be connected to a humanitarian organization that strives to help people when they need it most!

Member Benefits:

  • Living allowance up to $14,000 (taxable) for 11 months of service
  • $5,775 Education Award. The Segal Education Award is good for seven years from the end of service and can be used to repay qualifiedstudent loans or for future education at eligible schools. National members age 55 and older at the time of service may be eligible to transfer the award to certain family members. Learn more about the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
  • Possible forbearance of qualified student loans. Note that interest continues to accrue. However accrued interest on qualifiedloans is eligible for payment by the National Service Trust.
  • Health plan benefits. Members are eligible to enroll in an Affordable Care Act compliant health plan.
  • Childcare benefits if you qualify. Learn more about our childcare benefits.

Plus, you will be following in the footsteps of our own Tim Reichel, Disaster Program Manager for the Stark County and Muskingum Lakes Chapter.

 

If you are interested in applying, please visit: http://www.myamericorps.gov

Power Outage Preparedness

That you are able to log onto this blog and read this article is a testament to the reliability of the company that supplies your electricity.  Unfortunately, stormy weather can knock out power, as it did Tuesday night for some 20,000 First Energy customers.

And as sweltering as the summer of 2016 has been, the demand for power has been great.  Sometimes, electrical equipment can be overloaded with so many air conditioners running.  That, too can cause power outages. While outages aren’t always predictable, it’s easy to be prepared and keep your loved ones safe during one.

HAVE A KIT

get-a-kitThe top items in your power outage kit should include water, a battery powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries. It is important not to use candles during a power outage because they a more likely to start a fire. Other items include:

  • Medications (7-day supply) and required medical items
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Non-cordless telephone
  • Full tank of gas

For more information on building a kit, check out our 72-hour kit blog post.

FOOD

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Use perishable food from the refrigerator first, freezer items second and non-perishable food last. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours and a freezer half-full will stay cold for 24 hours.

ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT

Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. It is important to do this because when the power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. You can protect appliances that can’t be unplugged, like refrigerators and freezers, with a surge protector.

CAUTION: CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS                CO2

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside an enclosed area. Cooking in enclosed areas with alternate sources for electricity can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire. These tips below will help you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Always locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in your to provide early warning of any accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If you hear the carbon monoxide alarm sound, move to a fresh air outdoors or an open window or door. Call for help from that location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

For more information on what to do during a power outage please visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/power-outage.

Get more information on surviving during this summer’s relentless heat here.  And download the Red Cross Emergency App, to monitor more than 35 different severe weather an emergency alerts, to help keep you and your family safe this summer and throughout the year.