2018 Disaster Response: American Red Cross helps millions in the wake of record wildfires, hurricanes and devastating weather

Disaster workers from Northeast Ohio among the responders

 

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

After another year of record-breaking disasters, the American Red Cross helped millions across the country by providing shelter, food and comfort to those affected.

California Wildfires 2018In 2018, disasters were felt across the country. In California, massive wildfires scorched more than 8.5 million acres, resulting in some of the most destructive wildfires in state history for a second year in a row. Six major hurricanes impacted the United States, devastating communities across nine states and U.S. territories in just three months’ time. Red Cross volunteers also responded with support and crisis counseling to communities affected by six tragic shootings, including those in Parkland, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Thousand Oaks, California.

“For a second year in a row, American Red Cross disaster workers from Northeast Ohio tirelessly delivered care and hope for people whose lives were torn apart by record disasters,” said Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responded to these and other crises, big and small – including responding to three home fires every 24-hours, on average, in Northeast Ohio, which devastate families each and every day.”

The Red Cross mobilized more than 14,000 disaster workers in 2018—90 percent of which were volunteers. The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross deployed 122 disaster workers to assist in the relief efforts for the California wildfires and Hurricanes Michael and Florence.  All four emergency response vehicles based in Northeast Ohio were also deployed to the disaster response operations.

In 2018, the Red Cross:

  • Served more than 8.2 million meals and snacks with partners
  • Distributed more than 2.2 million relief items
  • Provided more than 290,000 overnight shelter stays with partners
  • Made more than 188,000 health and mental health contacts to provide support and care

Additionally, the Red Cross helped to reconnect more than 3,000 people separated by this year’s disasters, including Diane Papedo and her brother, who was displaced by wildfires in California. Diane had worried about her brother’s fate until she learned he was at a Red Cross shelter. Reuniting with him there, she immediately felt a sense of relief. “I saw him right away, it’s a miracle,” Diane said. Hurricane Harvey 2017

As 2018 comes to a close, the Red Cross continues to help those affected by major disasters, including the earthquake and ongoing aftershocks that have struck Alaska in recent days. We’re also continuing to help people affected by the California wildfires, Hurricanes Michael and Florence, and Typhoon Yutu on the Mariana Islands.

HOME FIRES MOST FREQUENT DISASTER

In the United States, home fires are the most frequent disaster. This year, the Red Cross has provided recovery support for more than 73,000 households affected by home fires. We continue to work to keep people safe through our Home Fire Campaign, where Red Cross volunteers go door-to-door to install free smoke alarms and help households create home fire escape plans. In 2018, Red Cross volunteers:

  • Installed nearly 400,000 smoke alarms, including 17,546 in Northeast Ohio
  • Reached more than 219,000 youth through preparedness programs. In Northeast Ohio alone, there were over 6,000 educational visits.
  • Made more than 165,000 homes safer through home fire safety visits, including more than 6,000 homes in Northeast Ohio.

Here are some tips to help keep your home safe this holiday season.

HELPING AROUND THE WORLD

As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross responded to more than 20 disasters around the world in 2018, aiding in humanitarian crises such as the tsunami in Indonesia and the volcano in Guatemala. The American Red Cross helped to reconnect nearly 9,200 family members separated by international conflict, disaster or migration. We deployed emergency responders to disaster zones in seven countries and sent humanitarian aid to more than 18 countries, including monetary donations, lifesaving supplies and trained disaster responders.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

This holiday season, you can help people affected by disasters like wildfires, storms and other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Please consider making a donation today. Visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). You can also make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

There are also other ways to help the Red Cross.

Without the tremendous support of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to support the thousands of people we were able to in 2018. If you are interested in making an impact in local communities, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

The Red Cross provides roughly 40 percent of the United States’ critical blood supply. There is always a need for blood donors to help provided this lifesaving resources to those in need. If you would like to donate blood, you can make an appointment to donate at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

As always, the Red Cross would like to thank everyone for there support. Your support has made and impact in Northeast Ohio and across the country. Here is a video to show how much your support matters to us and the impact you helped provide in our communities:

 

Red Cross continues response to disasters in Northeast Ohio, even with ongoing relief efforts around the world

Weekend disasters affect dozens of residents in all 5 Northeast Ohio Chapters

 

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

The American Red Cross continues to respond to disaster relief efforts around the world, including responding to the California wildfires and Saipan following Super Typhoon Yutu.  Even with relief efforts underway far and wide, the Red Cross continues to respond to needs of residents right here in Northeast Ohio.

41870691712_5b3ee65587_zOver the weekend, the Red Cross responded to 17 incidents in all five chapters in Northeast Ohio, assisting 64 residents, and distributing more than $12,300 in immediate financial assistance to help people in their darkest hours.

 

The Lake to River Chapter was particularly hit hard.

Disaster workers in the Lake to River Chapter, which serves Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, responded to seven incidents ranging from home fires to power outages, provided more than $4,700 in aid and opened a shelter for two-nights in Columbiana County for residents displaced from last week’s winter storms.

One particular case in Mahoning County, involving a grandmother, a mother and her five children, highlights the commitment the Red Cross has to serving the needs of residents in Northeast Ohio. As Karen Conklin, executive director of the Lake to River Chapter states, “What we do to help people in our community and the difference we make every day is amazing. Over the weekend, a fire started in the attic while the family was at church. Two adults and five children lost everything. While the family has a hard road to recovery, we responded with much more than a debit card. We gave them kindness, respect and hope. It was another mission moment I won’t soon forget. Because of the Red Cross and our volunteers, this family has begun the road to recovery. Without us they would be alone at their burned-out residence as the fire department rolls up their hoses and drives away. We are the difference.” IMG_5580

The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross is prepared 24 hours per day and seven days a week to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. However, we are unable to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, which make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are truly the face of the Red Cross. If you are interested in making an impact in local communities, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

We also rely on the generosity of Northeast Ohio residents to continue to offer disaster relief and to provide support in a time of need. If you would like to provide a monetary donation, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Red Cross biomedical worker reflects on first disaster deployment

By Tracie Endress, American Red Cross Biomedical Services Recruitment Account Specialist

Editor’s note:  Tracie Endress was deployed in September 2018 as a Red Cross disaster volunteer for the first time in support of those affected by Hurricane Florence.

Photo credit: Tracie Endress, American Red Cross

I donate blood and plasma to the American Red Cross, and knew I wanted to do more so I enrolled as a disaster volunteer. I decided to volunteer because I wanted to make a difference and help people who needed support during this disaster. This was my first disaster deployment. I served in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for two weeks. I was very proud to be a part of this Red Cross disaster response. I met a lot of amazing people who were affected by the disaster and who wanted to give back by volunteering for the Red Cross themselves. It was heartwarming to see how someone who was affected wanted to join the American Red Cross mission to help those in need.

florence 5I worked in the warehouse that packed and distributed the emergency supplies to areas that were affected by the storm. Driving into the disaster areas with 16-foot box trucks to help was very humbling and rewarding. When the people saw us, you could see hope in their eyes, knowing that others cared. People started helping us unpack the trucks and move the items. They would hug me and say, “Thank you for coming.”  The days were long, but we knew we couldn’t stop until all the supplies were dispersed.

While in North Carolina, I met a lot of people who were taking the same journey with me as disaster volunteers. I keep in touch with the volunteers that were there with me. We are family now.  It was a great experience, and I am honored to be a part of the American Red Cross Disaster Volunteer team.

Thousands of American Red Cross workers have mounted a massive response to help tens of thousands of people impacted by Hurricane Florence. See the Hurricane Florence one-month update here.

To apply to become a Red Cross volunteer, complete a volunteer application here.

Beyond national hurricane relief efforts, the Red Cross continues to respond to local disasters in Northeast Ohio

By: Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

IMG_2066Currently, the most visible work of the American Red Cross is its response to assist in the relief efforts in the Southeast United States following Hurricanes Florence and Michael. However, even with 23 disaster relief workers deployed from this region to assist with the hurricanes, the Red Cross continues to respond to disasters here in Northeast Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross, which serves 22 counties and 4.5 million dunham ave 2 residents, has continued to be very active responding to calls across local communities. This past weekend, disaster relief workers responded to eight calls from home fires to storm damage in Canton, Cleveland, Fairlawn, Lorain, Sandusky, Sheffield Lake, South Euclid and Willard. They assisted 23 adults and 10 children and provided nearly $8,700 in aid.

IMG_4123The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross is prepared 24 hours per day and seven days a week to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. If you are interested in making an impact in local communities, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. We can provide support to our communities thanks to the work of our tremendous volunteers, which make up 90 percent of our workforce. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.orgIMG_1758

We also rely on the generosity of Northeast Ohio residents to continue to offer disaster relief. If you would like to provide a monetary donation, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Red Cross continues to respond to Hurricane Michael disaster relief

By: Eric Alves, Regional Communication Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

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The American Red Cross has continued to respond to the Hurricane Michael disaster relief effort, with Northeast Ohio playing a significant role in the support.

On October 11, Hurricane Michael came ashore and made its way across Alabama, Florida and Georgia, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 upon landfall, making it the third-strongest hurricane in U.S. history. It was also the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 50 years. A week since the storm, tens of thousands of people are still dealing with the destruction.

As always, when there is a need for compassion and humanitarian support, the Red Cross has been helping those affected and will remain there as people begin to recover and rebuild. Some people are still living without power, running water and other basic necessities. Many schools and medical facilities are closed, roads are still blocked and several bridges have been damaged.

The Red Cross is working around the clock to get help where it’s most needed. The situation throughout the region remains challenging and staff and volunteers are doing all they can to provide shelter, food, water and relief supplies to people in need.

As of October 18, more than 1,840 people stayed in as many as 16 Red Cross and community evacuation centers across Florida and Georgia. In the week since the storm, the Red Cross and other organizations have provided more than 27,400 overnight stays in emergency shelters in total, with the Red Cross providing about 83 percent of the stays.

Across the three states, more than 1,600 Red Cross disaster workers, including 21 from Northeast Ohio, are on the ground to support relief efforts, such as serving more than 477,800 meals and snacks and distributing more than 36,600 relief items like cleanup kits, rakes, shovels, bleach, garbage bags and much more to help with the massive cleanup effort. In addition, volunteer mental health and health services professionals have provided 6,700 contacts to provide support and care to evacuees.

After two major hurricanes in less than a month, thousands of people are looking for help. If you are interested in assisting those in need, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

If you are unable to provide support during a disaster relief effort, there are other ways you can assist right here in Northeast Ohio. The Red Cross depends on financial donations to fund our relief services. To donate, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Red Cross also has a critical need for blood and platelet donations to help meet patient needs. The Red Cross provides roughly 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and Hurricanes Michael and Florence have forced the cancellation of about 250 blood drives, causing approximately 7,600 units of blood to go uncollected. The Red Cross is asking for eligible individuals to make an appointment to donate blood by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

NEO Volunteers join hundreds of others from across the country to help Hurricane Michael victims

Helping provide shelter, food and hope to those impacted by the storm

Five days after Hurricane Michael slammed into the southeast, thousands of people are living in dire conditions. The American Red Cross is with them, helping people in Florida, Georgia and Alabama as they struggle to get back on their feet.

  • Home after home is destroyed, many people have lost everything. Many areas are still inaccessible.
  • The storm also damaged medical facilities, schools and businesses. Search and rescue efforts continue.
  • Hundreds of thousands have no power as temperatures hover in the high 80s.
  • In many areas, people have no water or sewer service and many that do have service are under boil advisories.

 

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The Red Cross is doing all we can to get help to where it’s most needed, and we’re reaching more neighborhoods each day. We’re working around the clock with partners like the National Guard to move volunteers and supplies, and to support dozens of shelters where people can find comfort and refuge.

  • With the magnitude of destruction and many roads impassable, we know that getting help into some areas will be challenging for some time.
  • The Red Cross is providing shelter, food, health services and emotional support during this challenging situation.
  • Some shelters are being relocated to more comfortable and appropriate locations.
  • In some areas, emergency response vehicles are able to get through with meals and relief supplies.

More than 1,300 Red Cross disaster workers have been assigned to the Hurricane Michael disaster relief operation, including 19 volunteers from Northeast Ohio. Visit our YouTube channel to see and hear comments from the volunteers pictured below.

Akron group

Volunteers Harry Pierdomenico, Tom Quinn, Teresa Greenlief and Cameron Fraser  Photo credit: Eric Alves/American Red Cross

  • This is a huge disaster, and the Red Cross is working closely with government and nonprofit partners to provide aid.
  • It will take time and require the resources from a large variety of organizations to help families and communities recover.
  • We are actively recruiting additional volunteers to help respond to disasters like Hurricane Michael, and to the home fires that occur, on average, three times every 24 hours in Northeast Ohio.  You can visit our volunteer page to begin the application process.

After two major hurricanes in less than a month, thousands of people are looking for help. The Red Cross depends on financial donations to fund our relief services. Help people affected by Hurricane Michael by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word MICHAEL to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

  • Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

The Red Cross has a critical need for blood and platelet donations to help meet patient needs. This fall, Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence have forced the cancellation of about 200 blood drives, causing approximately 7,000 units of blood to go uncollected in the Southeast.

  • Low donor turnout is expected to continue in affected areas as communities recover.
  • The Red Cross asks eligible individuals to make an appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

 

 

Volunteers provide disaster relief for hidden concerns

By: Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

The American Red Cross continues to assist residents affected by hurricanes in the Southeast.  Among the disaster relief workers who are playing a role are mental health volunteers.

Red Cross mental health volunteers are a treasured group of individuals. They are all licensed independent health practitioners: psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers and psychiatric registered nurses.

California Wildfires 2018

In addition to being licensed professionally, mental health volunteers must take specialized Red Cross training in disaster mental health which, for the most part, is far different than what they do in their daily full-time jobs. The specialized training is based on many years of experience in disaster relief, from those who have lost precious mementos in a home fire to the victims of 9/11 and everyone in between.

Red Cross mental health volunteers provide immediate crisis management. They instruct clients in becoming more resilient and help them cope with the various emotions they may experience following their loss. While mental health volunteers do not do long-term counseling, if they determine a client would benefit from long-term intervention, they will make a referral to a proper mental health specialist. They will not refer the client to themselves or to any other member of the team.

California Wildfires 2017

“Many victims and survivors do not recognize the need for intervention or do not want to be judged or labeled if they are struggling with recovery,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager of disaster cycle services for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “Our disaster mental health volunteers can help them to recognize the normal and destigmatize the need for counseling.”

Northeast Ohio is particularly fortunate to have some of the finest and most experienced mental health volunteers. They never fail to step up as needed even though the majority have full-time positions or time-consuming private practices.

Edgardo Padin, a mental health volunteer from Northeast Ohio, deployed to assist in the 2018 California wildfires. Recently, he discussed his experience assisting individuals who lost their homes with their mental health needs.

Tennessee Wildfires 2016

While it is easy to see the physical damage that a home fire or a hurricane can cause, it is not often as easy to see the internal effects a disaster can have on an individual. On World Mental Health Day, it is important to recognize the disaster mental health volunteers who assist with disaster relief efforts to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

For more information on the Red Cross’ disaster mental health services or to become a volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.