Family Feels Safer After Fleeing Puerto Rico

Smoke Alarms Give Mom and Dad Piece of Mind

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Neysha Santiago is back at work.  Her broken ankle has healed, after she slipped on Northeast Ohio ice this winter.

“We don’t have ice in Puerto Rico!”IMG_5385

Neysha arrived in Cleveland with her husband Brian and their six-year old son last fall, after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.  “We lost everything,” she said, while Red Cross workers installed smoke alarms in her new home in Cleveland.

A cousin, Randy Rivera, told the family to call the Red Cross for smoke alarms.

Cousin Randy also brought the newly-settled family to his church, Smyrna Christian and Missionary Alliance, where they met Gabe Bruno, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Lincoln Electric.

He found Neysha and Brian jobs.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet a couple of needs,” Bruno said.  “They needed employment and we needed workers in our electronics factory.”

Coincidentally, the Chairman and CEO of Lincoln Electric, Chris Mapes, is the current Chairman of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors.

IMG_5387

Neysha Santiago, Katherine Ramos and her son Gadielys

Neysha was nursing her broken ankle, sitting at the kitchen table with her sister-in-law Katherine and her baby, dinner simmering on the stove, when Red Cross workers installed a smoke alarm on each level of her home in March.  They also showed her how to develop an escape plan for her family.

She said the alarms make her feel safer.

 

 

Kelly Fraser of AmeriCorps helps Neysha Santiago create an escape plan for her home

Red Cross workers and volunteers from various fire departments, community groups, and corporate partners have been installing smoke alarms in homes across the country since April 28, when the Sound the Alarm campaign began.  Since then, more than 1,300 alarms have been  installed in more than 450 homes in Cleveland, Akron and Maple Heights. IMG_5375

The three-week campaign ends locally on Saturday, when volunteers will install smoke alarms and offer fire safety information to residents in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood.  But residents can still request smoke alarms, and have them installed by the Red Cross and its partners all year long by visiting redcross.org/neo.

 

 

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