Finding Family Following Hurricane Maria

Many Northeast Ohio residents are concerned about loved ones in Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Harvey 2017

The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool
that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to
indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always
available and open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and
searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be
completed by texting SAFE to 78876. Messages exist in both Spanish and
English.

To speak with someone at the American Red Cross concerning a
missing friend or relative who has a serious, pre-existing health or mental health
condition, please call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Recent disasters, like Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico, have left
many across the world looking for their loved ones, and the Red Cross is here to
help.

If you are looking for a U.S. citizen affected by recent international disasters,
please contact the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Citizens
Services at 1-888-407-4747 or go online at
https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/emergencies.html

If you live in the United States and are looking for non-U.S. citizen family
members affected by Hurricane Maria in the French and Dutch territories, and
British Virgin Islands, please visit www.familylinks.icrc.org to find more
information.

If you are seeking information about non-U.S. citizen family members in Mexico
who have been missing since the recent earthquake, please visit
www.redcross.org/FamilyLinks, or call the American Red Cross Restoring Family
Links Helpline at 844-782-9441.

During and after large, devastating disasters such as Hurricane Maria,
connectivity can be a challenge. If you’ve put a request in with American Red
Cross or the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,
please continue to virtually reach out to your friends and family.

Keep trying to reach out by calling during off-peak hours, and continue to send
text messages and emails. Continually check social media for updates.

Contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby who may be able to
provide you with information

Akron Volunteer in the News!

Local media in Texas have been covering the efforts of the Red Cross to offer care to residents affected by Hurricane Harvey.  The following excerpt appeared in an article in the Killeen Daily Herald on September 6, 2017:

…Meanwhile, Red Cross Shelter Manager Jackie Speciale, a resident of Woodstock, Illinois, is technically on vacation. Some people dream of a tropical destination or a week at a ski lodge. Speciale requested two weeks of vacation from her boss and hopped on a plane to Killeen. Her husband’s back home, going into work late every day this week so he can drop their children off at school.

“For each person you see here with the Red Cross, there’s four or five people behind them,” she said.

She stood in the library with Jason Humphrey, another Red Cross volunteer from the Midwest. The Akron, Ohio, resident was volunteering in his fifth natural disaster. His volunteer work has brought him to Arkansas for tornado relief and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. He works as a security guard at concerts, so his work schedule has a bit more flexibility than most. But still, he dropped everything, for the fifth time in his life, to help those who needed it.

“Somebody’s taking care of my dog,” he said with a laugh.

To read more about the volunteers from across the country who have responded to Hurricane Harvey in Killeen, Texas, click here.

To start a volunteer application, visit this page on our website.

Photos following Hurricane Harvey in Texas/ Credit: Chuck Haupt/American Red Cross

From Hurricanes to Home Fires – Get Prepared in September

Hurricane Harvey 2017By now you know may think that you know all about hurricanes — massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. These large storms are called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring now, between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

It may seem like you’re well versed on basic preparedness tips, such as:

  • Know where to go if ordered to evacuate.
  • Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
  • If not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.

And with Ohio not being a coastal state, you may feel that you don’t have to worry about any of these things!

But you should.

Hurricane Harvey 2017Coming right smack in the middle of the peak of Hurricane season, is Preparedness Month. Celebrated every September, it is the perfect time for you, your family, and your community learn how to BE PREPARED.

Prepare for the things you may experience as an Ohioan: tornadoes, flooding, extreme winter weather, power outages, or a home fire.

Step one:
Build a Kit or Do an Annual Supply Check

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Waterone gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)

Additional Emergency Supplies

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Glasses and contact lense solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers
  • Replace expired items as needed
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

  • Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  • Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  • Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.

On Being a Phone Bank Volunteer for Hurricane Harvey Relief

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer 

Your alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. and its pitch-dark outside. You shower, shave, fill your travel mug with coffee and head for the garage. Traffic is amazingly light at 6:00 a.m., which is one of the benefits of starting so early, you tell yourself.

You and seven of your fellow Red Crossers are heading to the Cleveland ABC affiliate – WEWS Channel 5 TV, for the start of an all-day Hurricane Harvey fund raiser.  Only the all-night anchors are here, so there’s plenty of parking spaces to choose from.

graphiconscreenThe studio is all set for us.  Tables are arranged, phones are ready and a large flat screen announces the Red Cross website URL, phone number and text information for a quick pledge.

One-by-one, Red Cross volunteers, employees and even a board member file in and take their place at the tables.  Four shifts are planned, so plenty of people can take part in this 6:00 a.m until 11:00 p.m. phone bank effort.Thursday phonebank

In fact, this is our second phone bank. Three days prior, another group of volunteers manned the phones from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. and were inundated with calls. “It was non-stop calling,” one volunteer said. “As soon as you hung up the call, there was another one ringing on the same line.”

 

Tuesday phone bank

The cameraman comes in and suggests a slight modification to our seating arrangement.  We’ve begun the countdown to going ‘On Air.’

“We’re live in ten seconds,” says the cameraman, and we are off, fielding phone calls from across Northeastern Ohio.

By this time, there’s probably no one in America that hasn’t heard about the devastation being wrought upon Texas and Louisiana.  News anchors compare the total rainfall to the amount of water in Lake Michigan, and another asks you to visualize the amount of water flowing over the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls. Now consider that flow for nine months straight, and you’ve got an idea how much water fell in just a few days in Texas.

“Oh my,” says the first caller. “Thank you for doing this for those poor people.  I only wish I could give more.  They must need so much help.”

Another caller is so distraught that she asks for a few seconds to collect herself, before completing her credit card information.  Actually, many of the callers were quite emotional, knowing the stress and anguish being felt by the thousands of victims.

“I don’t know what those people would do if it weren’t for the Red Cross and the other agencies down there,” says another.  This was a recurrent theme all morning.

By the end of the first shift, you start to compare numbers of callers and amounts raised. Amounts donated ranged from $10 to $1,000 this morning.  Even larger amounts were reported from that first phone bank and possibly will be duplicated later in the day. Northeast Ohio has always been famous for its immense generosity whenever a need like this occurs, and it’s a great privilege to help out those so desperately in need.

You turn over your phone to the next volunteer, already missing the opportunity to talk with more like-minded Ohioans, bound to make a difference for the victims in Texas and Louisiana.

Won’t you join us? The American Red Cross is always looking for more volunteers. Sign up today to donate or to volunteer at http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer. 

 

 

 

Help NEEDED…More Volunteers

Red Cross volunteer Kim Sterling of Ashtabula met Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern after being deployed to Austin, Texas

There are currently 30 volunteers from Northeast Ohio in or en route to Texas to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Some of them have been featured in the local media:

http://www.wkyc.com/news/local/five-ways-you-can-help-make-a-difference-for-harvey-victims-in-need/469042466

http://www.medina-gazette.com/Medina-County/2017/08/31/Medina-County-natives-involved-in-Harvey-efforts.html

http://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/oh-summit/two-local-red-cross-volunteers-head-south-to-help-thousands-forced-from-their-flooded-homes

Volunteers continue to leave for the hurricane zone to provide sheltering, meals, and other services to residents who were forced from their homes.  And more volunteers will be needed in the coming weeks, to continue providing assistance to the tens of thousands of residents affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Red Cross volunteers are trained to provide the services needed before, during and after disaster strikes.  New training sessions are being scheduled.  If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, and helping people like the volunteers featured in the media stories above, visit our volunteer page to begin the application process.

Local Volunteers Helping in Texas

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Red Cross volunteers Cameron Fraser and Rick King are improvising.

“We’re both trained in logistics, but when we got here, we saw a greater need and offered to help deliver meals,” Rick said as he assembled packages of snacks. “Flexibility is key. Our snack packs could end up being lunch, dinner and breakfast.”

Rick and Cameron are among more than two dozen volunteers from Northeast Ohio who have been deployed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  They have been assigned to help residents in and around Texas City, Texas.

“We went from Baton Rouge to Hempstead in the Great Texas ERV Drive,” Rick said, referring to a convoy of more than 40 emergency response vehicles (ERVs) that made their way to the Houston area. “It took us hours and hours to get there.”

ERV drive

In total, eight groups headed to the area last Thursday.  They were able to communicate with one another through a smart phone app.

Cameron and Rick are working with partners from the Southern Baptist Convention, who set up a mobile kitchen for preparing the meals Red Cross workers will deliver.

“There’s a feeling of nervous energy,” said Rick. “We’ve spent time training on what to expect and we’re ready to go.”

To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit our volunteer page, or call 216-431-3328.

By the numbers:

· Saturday night, at least 32,399 people sought refuge in 226 Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas overnight. The Red Cross is also assisting the Louisiana state government with an emergency shelter which hosted nearly 1,700 people last night.

· More than 2,700 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground, and more than 660 are on the way.

· Shelter supplies to support more than 85,000 people are on the ground.

· Along with our partners, we have served more than a half million (515,000) meals and snacks since the storm began.

· We have trailers of kitchen supplies on the ground to support 14 kitchens, each able to produce 10,000 meals a day, and 2 more trailers are on the way.

· We also have about 150,000 ready-to-eat meals currently on the ground with an additional 5,000 on the way.

· More than 215 emergency response vehicles have been activated to help deliver meals and relief supplies.

· Mental health and health services professionals have provided some 15,000 contacts to provide support and care to evacuees.

· We’ve distributed more than 27,000 relief items like diapers and comfort kits that contain deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items for people forced from their homes. Cleaning and relief supplies to support more than 15,000 homes are on the ground, with an additional 5,000 on the way.

 

 

While You Were Celebrating…

By: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

Hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and enjoyed your three or four-day weekend. It’s always great to have some time off – unless that’s when disaster strikes.

Over this past holiday weekend, disaster did strike – over a dozen times throughout the 22-county area served by the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross. Red Cross workers, mostly unpaid volunteers, responded to a vast variety of emergencies; providing physical, emotional and financial support to those affected.

resident-keith-dulin-receives-help-from-red-cross-volunteers-bill-geschke-and-felicia-lee-3

Keith Dulin receives help from Red Cross volunteers Bill Geschke and Felicia Lee after a fire damaged his apartment in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “I am trying to give back to people who are less fortunate,” Geschke said. “I volunteer for other organizations, but the work I do for the Red Cross gives me the most satisfaction.” Photo by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

After a plane went missing in Lake Erie off Burke Lakefront Airport, a Family Assistance Center team and Disaster Mental Health were deployed to the scene to help. The Family Assistance Center was set up January 1st and continues to aid families of the passengers. Meals, beverages and snacks have been served to 12 to 30 people daily.

During the weekend leading up to and including New Year’s Day, six home fires and one carbon monoxide poisoning incident found Disaster Assistance Teams being dispatched to Richland, Mahoning, Cuyahoga, Huron, Lorain and Summit counties. Providing lodging, clothing and financial support, the teams helped more than two dozen adults and children with their immediate needs.

A power outage on New Year’s Day in Harrison county wasn’t how 120 people envisioned starting the new year. Luckily, the Red Cross was there at the Scio Fire Department’s Community Room, providing meals and snacks for those without power.

The day after New Year’s Day, four more fires broke out in Cuyahoga, Mahoning and Lorain counties; many of them affecting multiple families. Once again, Disaster Assistance Teams were there to provide aid and lodging reimbursement for the more than two dozen people affected.

While the fires, poisoning and air fatality were totally unexpected; those are the very reasons the Red Cross is always prepared to be of assistance, and why volunteers play such a crucial role helping residents in Northeastern Ohio communities.

If you have an interest in volunteering, log onto redcross.org/neo

Louisiana Floods 2016

August 18, 2016. Denham Springs, Louisiana. Tears fill Fonda’s eyes as she ran, arms opens, from her flooded Louisiana home. Her first request? “I want a hug,” says Fonda Buckley as she embraces Red Cross volunteer Cora Lee. Photo by: Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

and click on the volunteer tab, or call 216-431-3328.