Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 21-23, 2018

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

Over the weekend, as people across Northeast Ohio were getting last minute tasks done to prepare for the holidays, the American Red Cross was responding to residents suffering from local disasters.

Sound the Alarm - Ohio 2018During the weekend of December 21-23, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to nine incidents in Cuyahoga, Mahoning, Summit and Wayne Counties. The incidents affected 24 adults, 16 children and resulted in the distribution of more than $8,000 in immediate financial assistance by the Red Cross.

Unfortunately, one of the nine incidents was a home fire in Cuyahoga County, which resulted in the fatality of an adult occupant and critical injuries to a two year old child. While the Red Cross is saddened by this tragedy during a time focused on happiness, the Red Cross will remain in contact with the victim’s family to provide assistance, such as support from disaster mental health workers. Louisiana Floods 2016

The vast majority of local disasters that the Red Cross responds to in Northeast Ohio are home fires. Every 24 hours, the Red Cross responds to three home fires on average. To learn how you can protect your family from home fires and to request a free smoke alarm installation, visit here.

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross’ efforts to support the residents of Northeast Ohio in their time of need, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Annual toy giveaway makes season brighter for families

By Brad Galvin and edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteers.

The annual TravelCenters of America Toy Giveaway event is Renee Palagyi’s favorite day of the year. Watching children with parents excitedly selecting toys and stuffed animals and enjoying hot cocoa, the Senior Disaster Program Manager of the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region said, “This is a very important light at the end of a really challenging year for a lot of these recipients.”

IMG_5887In its 20th year, the Annual Toy Giveaway is an event where 200 children were invited to enjoy festive cheer and take home new toys and goodies. The event aims to make the holidays a little more cheerful for community members who have been the victims of various disasters.

Employees of TravelCenters of America, headquartered in Westlake, began the tradition of collecting toys for children 20 years ago. This year, members of Local 93 of the Cleveland Firefighters Union also contributed toys, as did many Red Cross employees.

On October 27, Wyonna Nash’s home was engulfed in a home fire. She and her children made it out safely but the past few months have been challenging. As she was helping her child choose a toy, she said, “We are grateful to the Red Cross. We are happy to be here. Without them, we don’t know where we would be.”

“Children need toys. This is Christmastime,” said Tom Liutkus, Senior Vice President of Marketing for TravelCenters of America. “We want them to have a memorable Christmas in what was otherwise a tragedy that may have occurred in their lives.” IMG_5894

Tom said that over the past 20 years, employees of TravelCenters of America have donated more than 5,500 toys for the annual giveaway.

The event was also attended by many volunteers who responded to disasters throughout the year. It’s a rewarding experience, since the last time the volunteers saw many of the recipients, they were dealing with one of the worst days of their lives; often, as firefighters were trying to salvage what was left of homes and apartment buildings.

IMG_5900Ellen Braun, a volunteer who has assisted with the toy drive over the last few years explained, “It’s all about giving back. The holidays are about kids and family. I just wish I could help more!”

Between the hugs, toys and messages of hope, the event was a wonderfully festive occasion that helped make the holidays a little brighter for families who have had a devastating 2018.  Watch a video of the event here.

You may also view more photos of the toy giveaway by visiting our Flickr page here.

If you’d like to help families who experience home fires and other disasters, you can donate to Disaster Relief, or become a Red Cross disaster services volunteer.  Visit redcross.org.neo for more information.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 14-16, 2018

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

Over the weekend, the American Red Cross was once again very active responding to the needs of the residents of Northeast Ohio.

California Wildfires 2018During the weekend of December 14-16, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to seven incidents occurring in four of the five chapters in the region. The incidents occurred in Cuyahoga, Jefferson, Mahoning, Richland, Summit and Trumbull counties, resulting in 18 individuals receiving assistance and the distribution of more than $4,000 in immediate financial assistance.

While Northeast Ohio is not often impacted by large natural disasters, it does not mean the difficulty of those natural disasters are not felt in the region. Over the weekend, the Red Cross provided assistance to two families in Cuyahoga and Summit counties who each lost loved ones during the recent California wildfires. The families received financial support to assist with funeral expenses, and were provided access to Red Cross disaster mental health workers to aid in the grieving process.

“The care we provided the local families who were next of kin to women who died in theCalifornia Wildfires 2018 Camp Fire in California was under our Integrated Care Team,” stated Renee Palagyi, senior disaster program manager. “Integrated Care Team allows a family to have two or three key contact people from Red Cross who are available for an in-person visit and follow-up phone calls. Assistance included a relatively small amount of money to be used for any death-related or other expenses they may encounter. More importantly, we provided a local touch, both through our caseworker and our disaster mental health professional. In talking with these women, they were incredibly grateful to receive my call and to know that they would have someone specifically assigned to talk with them over the next several weeks as they work through pain I can’t begin to imagine.”

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross in continuing to support the residents of Northeast Ohio in their time of need, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 7-9, 2018

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

Year in and year out, when there are large national disasters, such as hurricanes Florence and Michael and the California wildfires, the focus of the news and viewers is high, and attention is on the American Red Cross and their efforts to assist those in need. Currently, the Red Cross and partners are operating 16 shelters and assisting over 200 residents in North and South Carolina following a winter storm that resulted in widespread loss of power in the Southeast United States.

However, even when the camera are not rolling, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is still active and assisting residents in need and helping to support them as they overcome a tragic low in their lives, which was evident this past weekend.

Flint Michigan Water Crisis 2016During the weekend of December 7-9, 2018, the Red Cross responded to 10 incidents in Cuyahoga, Huron, Mahoning and Stark Counties, with disasters ranging from a carbon monoxide leak to home fires. The response included assisting 23 adults and 15 children and distributing more than $7,000 in immediate financial assistance.

One incident included a fatal home fire in Youngstown involving five young children. The Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is deeply saddened by this tragedy. Professional disaster mental health volunteers are on-call ready to provide support and assistance to the family of the victims in this time of grief and difficulty.

In Northeast Ohio, the most frequent disasters the Red Cross responds to are home fires. Sound the Alarm North Carolina 2018On average, the Red Cross responds to three home fires every 24-hours. The Red Cross wants to ensure everyone in Northeast Ohio remains safe, which is why the Red Cross developed the home fire campaign, where volunteers go door-to-door to install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans. In 2018, the Red Cross installed 17,546 smoke alarms in Northeast Ohio. To learn more about home fire safety and tips to help keep your family safe during a home fire, visit redcross.org/homefires.

To continue to provide support and disaster relief to residents in their time of need, the Red Cross relies on the continued generosity of Northeast Ohio. If you would like to provide a financial donation, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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:

 

Sept. 11 experience moves resident to become avid Red Cross volunteer

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Sept. 11, 2001 made significant impressions on most every adult living at the time. It certainly did for Susie Muetzel, an American Red Cross volunteer with the Lake to River Chapter.

Susie Muetel

Susie Muetzel

“At the time, my husband was a Cleveland firefighter and I was working for the clerk of Cleveland City Council,” said Susie. “After being told we needed to evacuate the building, as I drove home, I recall seeing the plane that was Flight 93 flying overhead when all planes were supposed to be grounded. I recall feeling sorry and helpless and terrified. Within a couple hours, I determined that I was never again going to feel like there was nothing I could do. There was no way I wanted that feeling of helplessness.”

Shortly thereafter, Susie saw on TV that the Red Cross was looking for volunteers. She still remembers making the call and talking with Disaster Specialist Debbie Chitester, who now serves as the Disaster Program Manager for the Summit Portage and Medina Counties Chapter.  Debbie helped Susie her get her initial training. On October 1, she began her volunteer service. She wasn’t able to deploy to New York or Pennsylvania back in 2001, but since then, she has deployed to countless hurricanes and floods, working in an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) and offering meals to those affected. She most recently responded to Hurricane Florence.

Susie&Sue

Susie Muetzel, left, and Red Cross volunteer Sue Wisdom

Locally, between national disasters, she keeps very busy with her chapter, covering four of the five counties along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. “Here at home, I’m a DAT (Disaster Action Team) leader, the DAT Coordinator and weekend AOC (Administrator-On-Call),” said Susie.

That could be the most rewarding part of her volunteer work, explained Susie. “I recall one weekend when we had back-to-back fires, each with fatalities. When we go to a fire and are able to provide some degree of comfort to someone who has lost everything and is desperate for help, that’s extremely rewarding.”

If someone is looking for volunteer opportunities, take it from Susie, “You get so much more out of it than you could ever possibly give. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. When you come home from helping someone, even in the middle of the night, you know that you did something good and really helped them. If you have that empathetic heart, it fills you up in ways that you never dreamed of.”

To explore the various volunteer possibilities open to you, visit https://neoredcross.org/volunteer/ and begin your online application.  There is a critical need for volunteers to join the Disaster Action Team in the Lake to River Chapter, which includes Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson Counties.  Residents there can get more information by calling the chapter at 866-319-7160.

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.