By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer
When fires break out and rivers breach their banks, the Red Cross responds. Such was the case this past weekend.
On Cleveland’s east side, a fire broke out in a six-story CMHA apartment building, Saturday 2/24. By the time the fire was extinguished, 23 units were affected with light to heavy smoke damage, making the units unlivable.
Our Cleveland Disaster Action Team responded, issuing the 25 residents with debit cards totaling almost $9,000 to cover their immediate lodging needs and miscellaneous other expenses.
Going forward, each of those families will be contacted by caseworkers from the Cleveland office, offering additional assistance in recovering from the fire.
At the same time, in southern Ohio, the request for assistance came as the Ohio River crested at more than 60 feet Sunday night, flooding parts of the Tri-State area in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.
In New Richmond, Ohio, if the water reached 59 feet, it would be at many homes door steps. More than that, and the water would flood inside.
The Red Cross anticipated the flooding and responded to the community’s needs by setting up shelters for the affected families. But, they needed additional assistance to properly staff the shelters.
Red Cross shelter established at the Alexandria Community Center in Indiana
Fortunately, the Northeast Ohio Region has many trained staff and volunteers that were able to drop everything and head for southern Ohio to assist. Two dozen people were assigned to the job, including five volunteers who had taken specialized training for just such an occurrence.
This photo, taken near East Liverpool, Ohio, shows the Ohio River Monday afternoon. Photo Credit: Karen Conklin/American Red Cross
Since the major hurricanes hit last year, a number of people have responded and taken training to assist in mass care sheltering opportunities. But, we could always use more, as spring flooding is not limited to the Ohio River.
Please consider volunteering and receiving free Red Cross training for disaster response. Help is always needed in a variety of specialties from sheltering to feeding, and from communications and IT to logistics. We can only respond, however, if we have sufficient volunteers that are properly trained in disaster services.
To learn about all the opportunities to be of assistance, please visit the Red Cross volunteer page. Opportunities exist for young adults, seniors and everyone in-between.