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:

 

A question that changed Christmas for me

By Sue Wilson, Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter board of directors. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

About five years ago, my daughter asked me a question, and although I certainly didn’t expect my answer to be that profound, it actually changed the way I looked at Christmas. She asked, “Mom, do you remember any of the gifts you received last Christmas?” I had to think long and hard. And I was embarrassed that I could not.

She then pointed out that every year we spend far too much money and time getting stressed about gifts, and that isn’t what Christmas should be about. She said that as a new mom and living states away, the best gift was being home. Plus, although she wanted to make Christmas special for her kids, she didn’t want them focused on the consumerism that Christmas had turned into. I was proud that she, and my other daughter, too, felt that the best memories from childhood were laughing, cooking, eating, playing board games and watching Christmas movies. So, we all agreed we’d scale back on the gift buying.

Historical First AidAlthough we haven’t completely stopped giving gifts–we have cut way back—and the gifts we give now are intentional, mindful and less tangible. We give gifts of time and experiences. Gifts that are practical. Our standards: If you can’t use it, wear it because you need it, eat it or take part in it, we won’t buy it. No more impractical “stuff” to sit on a shelf. We’ve also incorporated giving gifts that have true meaning–gifts for the greater good. And one of those is making a donation to a worthy cause. After I joined the board of directors for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter, giving gifts of meaning became even more important to me.

This year, there are so many who will not be celebrating Christmas as they did last year because their home was destroyed by the devastation of a wildfire or hurricane. Every night, in any given city, there is a home fire. I’ve seen first-hand the work the Red Cross does on a local and national level, and to continue to do this work your financial support is needed. Here are three creative and meaningful gift ideas:

  • For disaster relief, donate here. (Print a card or certificate to tell a loved one that you donated in their honor.)
  • If you still enjoy giving traditional gifts, you can shop online at the  Red Cross store and give a practical gift—the gift of preparedness for emergencies, with first aid kits, a hand-crank radio that can charge your cell phone, water bottles and more.
  • Visit redcross.org/gifts and choose from a variety of symbolic gifts that give back to people in need. 183401-18-Holiday-Campaign-2018_Social-Media-Plan_Facebook-Post-Graphic_2_FINAL

All donations are tax-deductible and will support Red Cross programs like Disaster Services, Service to the Armed Forces, Blood Services and International Services.

This holiday, give something that means something, and you’ll feel just like Mr. Scrooge did when he woke up-giddy on Christmas morning knowing he was going to make so many people’s lives better. Give, that’s what Christmas spirit is all about.

Think S-A-F-E-T-Y as you trim your tree this year

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Northeast Ohio. While the dusting of snow is lovely, and while we are all busy getting ready for the holidays, we need to be aware of the potential for home fires during this season.

decorations-home-fire-engThe National Fire Protection Association warns us that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are the three days most likely to experience fires started by candles.

Consider that Northeast Ohio experienced 14 fires just over Thanksgiving weekend alone.

The American Red Cross wants people to stay safe from home fires—the nation’s most frequent disaster—by testing their smoke alarms and practicing their home fire escape plan with free resources at redcross.org/homefires. In addition, you can follow these 10 simple safety tips as you put up lights and ornaments:

  1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.
  2. If you are buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  3. If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it frequently to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  4. If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
  5. When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  6. If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
  7. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  8. Don’t forget to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  9. Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles.
  10. If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.45180555475_4b8c6fc3dd_z

Every eight minutes, donations to the Red Cross help someone affected by a disaster—most often, home fires. You can help save lives by making a financial donation to support our mission, signing up to become a volunteer or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Visit redcross.org to learn more.

Don’t stop now.  Also check out our tips for Cooking Safety and Travel Safety.

Also, as you continue to prepare to decorate your house, here is a video on holiday decorating safety tips you can watch with your family to ensure everyone can enjoy the holidays safely:

NEO Red Cross collecting supplies to support military service members and veterans in need this holiday season

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist,American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Communications volunteer.

This holiday season, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is teaming up with the Ohio Troop and Family Assistance Center (TFAC) to provide supplies to military families and veterans in need.

During the holiday season, to give thanks to our military for everything they do for us each day, the Red Cross is collecting toiletries and paper goods. The TFAC has a “pantry”/ “care room” at the North Canton National Guard Armory but supports all 22 counties of the Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Region. The pantry is in need of feminine products, diapers (all sizes), laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap and men’s razors. It is recommended that items be smaller in size but not trial size

The Red Cross has a long history of assisting military service members, their families and veterans. Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, risked her life during the Civil War to bring supplies to soldiers in the fields. This service and the continued need to support and protect the sick and wounded during wartime led Clara to establish the Red Cross in 1881.This commitment to the military and those in need in times of conflict and humanitarian crises led to the Red Cross receiving a congressional charter in 1905 to fulfill provisions of the Geneva Conventions. These responsibilities are to provide family communications and other forms of support to the U.S. military and to maintain a system of domestic and international disaster relief. Despite this close relationship with the federal government, the Red Cross is an independent nonprofit that does not receive federal funding.

Today, the Red Cross continues our strong commitment to our service members, their families and veterans, which began with Clara on the battlefields. Service to the Armed Forces remains one of our five service areas. From the first day of enlistment, service members and their families are eligible for Red Cross assistance. Every day, the American Red Cross provides 24/7 global emergency communication services and support in military and veteran healthcare facilities across the country and around the world. Some of the services the Red Cross provides are helping to cope with deployment, delivering verified messages during emergencies at home, keeping in touch with military families and informing them that help is always available, helping find access to financial assistance, providing information and referral services and assisting with veterans appeals, building skills for successful reintegration and much more. 

If you are interested in donating items to military members, their families and veterans in need in Northeast Ohio, Red Cross chapter locations in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Elyria, New Philadelphia,Wooster and Youngstown are accepting donations. Donated items will be delivered to TFAC pantry. You can find the addresses to each drop-off location by visiting the locations page at redcross.org/neo.

Thanksgiving weekend disasters in Northeast Ohio highlight importance of Giving Tuesday

‘Give Something That Means Something’ to bring comfort and hope to people in need

In a year when disasters upended the lives of thousands of people, the American Red Cross is asking everyone to Give Something that Means Something for families in need through its 2018 Holiday Giving Campaign.

183401-22-Holiday-Campaign-2018_Spanish-Social-Graphics_Give-Comfort_1200x1200_English_REVThe need is constant—and this year was no different. Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross assisted 72 adults and children, who were affected by 14 separate incidents. The Red Cross also gave $14,000 in immediate financial assistance. Home fires—the nation’s most frequent disaster—account for the vast majority of our responses.

“Every day, home fires and other everyday crises turn people’s lives upside down,” said Mike Parks, Chief Executive Officer, Northeast Ohio. “The Red Cross responds to three home fires every 24 hours on average in Northeast Ohio. Families are counting on your support to remember them during this special time of year. On Giving Tuesday, please consider making a financial donation or a blood donation, or volunteering your time.”

GIVING TUESDAY Beginning on Giving Tuesday—November 27—please #GiveWithMeaning at redcross.org/gift to support people in need with a symbolic gift, which you can make in honor of the special people in your life:

  • Help disaster victims. Your gift of $250 can deliver hot meals for 25 people who 183401-18-Holiday-Campaign-2018_Social-Media-Plan_Twitter-Post-Graphic-1_FINALneed nourishment after a disaster. A donation of $100 can provide a family of two with a full day’s worth of emergency shelter with meals, snacks, blankets, a cot and hygiene supplies. Help provide warmth with a gift of $50, which can provide blankets for 10 people.
  • Help our veterans. A donation of $125 can help veterans transition back to civilian life by connecting them and their families to critical services such as food, housing, counseling and rehabilitation.
  • Help internationally. Your gift of $100 can help provide lifesaving vaccinations for 100 children who face an increased risk of measles and rubella around the world.

In addition, you can also:

  • Give the gift of life. Visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets.
  • Volunteer to help others. To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org.

GIVING HOPE EVERY DAY Every 8 minutes, someone affected by disaster is helped by donations to the Red Cross. The generosity of Red Cross donors helps provide people with necessities like shelter, food, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Please donate blood!

A message from Regional CEO Mike Parks

Northeast Ohio Red Cross Family:  This is truly a special time of year.  This holiday, Thanksgiving, perhaps more than any other, is truly reflective of the nature and character of the American Red Cross.  As we give thanks for all our bountiful blessings, we can’t help but reflect upon the countless people our organization has helped in their times of need.  This season is about caring about others—and that’s what the Red Cross does each and every day of the year.  Simply put, when there is a need–the American Red Cross shows up, cares, and serves.  For that, I’m incredibly grateful—to say nothing of the gratitude felt by those we serve.

Speaking of which, it’s been said we should begin each day with a grateful heart.  I am so grateful for all our partners & stakeholders, generous donors (blood products and financial), amazing volunteers, and dedicated staff who help us prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies each and every day.  Because of you—we’re able to accomplish the American Red Cross humanitarian mission—thank you!!

IMG_6437One of those missions is providing the nation a safe and secure blood supply.  It’s regrettable that less than 40% of our nation’s population CAN give blood (for a variety of reasons).  What’s far more regrettable is that less than 10% of that population CHOOSES to give blood.  My challenge to all of us is to not be part of that 90% of the population that can give but chooses not to donate this life saving product.  Please find time over the next five weeks to donate blood to the American Red Cross.  If you can’t donate, then please encourage a family member, colleague, and/or friend to give.  Every donation counts!!  Thank you in advance for making a difference and helping save lives!

If you’re travelling…please stay safe!  Thank you again for all you do as part of the world’s premier humanitarian organization!! I wish you and yours a wonderfully enjoyable & safe Thanksgiving.

Best regards…Mike

Travel tips to get you safely to your Thanksgiving celebration

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

thanksgiving-travel-safety

 

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings people together to give thanks and celebrate their blessings. Relatives gather around the table to enjoy their family’s version of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Each year, millions of people drive to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends, making it one of the busiest times for road traffic.

 

If you are headed “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” as the childhood song goes, prepare in advance to ensure a safe visit. The American Red Cross offers 10 tips to help you stay safe if you are traveling by car:

  1. Make sure your car is in good condition for a road trip.
  2. Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in the trunk.
  3. Share travel plans with a family member or friend.
  4. Check the weather before departing and along your route. Plan for travel around any storms that may be coming.
  5. Be well rested and alert.
  6. Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.
  7. Follow the rules of the road and use caution in work zones.
  8. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  9. Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  10. If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

‘Tis the season . . . flu season. So if public transportation is part of your travel plans, keep this in mind. From luggage to seats, everything that you touch is likely touched by someone else. Follow these tips to help avoid the spread of germs.

  1. Handle your own belongings.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  3. Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces, such as armrests.
  4. Bring your own pillows and blankets. They can act as a shield against the seat itself.

To find out what supplies you should have on hand in an emergency preparedness kit, the Red Cross offers this checklist and quiz to test your knowledge: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/survival-kit-supplies.html.

You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to help you monitor severe weather and emergency alerts.

Whichever road leads to your Thanksgiving destination, these Red Cross tips and tools can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Safe travels!