Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: January 25-27, 2019

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

January 28, 2019 – As the arctic cold temperatures crept back into Northeast Ohio, American Red Cross workers braved the frigid temperatures to assist residents during their time of need.

This past weekend, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 9 incidents in Canton, Cleveland, East Cleveland, East Liverpool, Massillon, Newbury, West Salem and Willard. The disaster team assisted more than 28 residents and provided more than $4,890 in immediate financial assistance to help the residents get back on their feet.

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The Red Cross also established a canteen in Newbury,  providing snacks and beverages for 36 first responders during a home fire.

Jeremy Sutar, a Newbury firefighter who responded to the home fire, said, “With the temperatures being so cold, it truly meant a lot to everyone on the scene to have warm food and beverages available.”

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.

If you cannot assist financially but would like to help residents following a disaster, there is another way you may help. Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/neo to learn more and to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer.

Deployment: Thoughts from a first-timer

Story and photos by Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

January 25, 2019 – I thought I might go to Houston for Hurricane Harvey in 2017. I didn’t. I got a mission card (for expenses) and was on standby for Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano in 2018,  but we weren’t needed there either. That’s how it can go with national disaster deployments.

So, I was wondering if the third time was the charm, as I drove to downtown Cleveland to Red Cross regional headquarters to pick up my mission card for the California wildfires.

The Camp Fire had started on November 8 and wasn’t contained until the end of November—after obliterating the majority of Concow, Magalia and Paradise, California.

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I didn’t have to wonder long, as my plane reservations were confirmed two days later. I was scheduled to leave Saturday, December 29. After typical winter weather delays and cancellations, I finally arrived in Sacramento, and checked into the hotel at 1 a.m.

Sunday morning, I was picked up at the hotel and processed at the Yuba City Red Cross regional office before heading for the shelter in Chico, Ca., roughly 1-1/2 hours north of Sacramento. We’d be working at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, where more than 700 residents were staying in three men, women and family dorms, as well as a combination of camping tents, cars and RVs.

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Some staff were being housed about 60 minutes outside town in a series of hotels but I stayed in the staff shelter, just 12 minutes from the fairgrounds. Our shelter was a series of tents, set up on the Chico Airport grounds.

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A large circus tent was our home away from home for everything but sleeping and showering. Showers were in a trailer, but hot water was in ample supply—most of the time. The staff tent handled registration, feeding and supplies. Two large screen TVs provided a choice of entertainment and a dozen sofas were there to relax on. Internet bandwidth was amazingly good for those who preferred to stream their own entertainment or keep up with social media.

My first day, I had a chance encounter while standing and looking at the fairground’s small waterfall, just inside the main gate. I could sense someone behind me and turned to see a tall gentleman, one of the evacuees people referred to as “Buckeye.” When he discovered I was also from Ohio, I got the biggest bear hug I’ve ever received. Turns out his family is from Warrensville Heights.

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At the fairgrounds, almost 200 Red Cross volunteers, working 12-1/2-hour shifts, and numerous community partners, provided a host of services to the residents. The ultimate goal was to get everyone transitioned into permanent housing. In the best of circumstances, this can be difficult but the city of Chico already had a housing shortage. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) committed to assisting those who couldn’t qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) housing.

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As people stayed at the fairgrounds, they each received three meals a day, a cot, blankets and a large, fluffy pillow. Paradise Equipment had a laundry trailer on site and everyone was entitled to free laundry service. They could just drop off a bag of clothes and pick it up later in the day—washed, dried and folded. Health needs were addressed for people and their pets. Residents received a range of health services as well as mental and spiritual counseling. Pets were vaccinated, fed and walked by a local pet relief organization.

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By the numbers, here’s what was going on 60 days into the Camp Fire disaster.

The Red Cross continues to provide shelter, meals and conversation for almost 700 evacuees, who are having trouble processing the idea of having lost everything. Not only are their houses gone, in many cases, they’ve also lost their jobs, their churches, schools, restaurants, social clubs and their friends.

If you’d care to donate, you can do it online at RedCross.org or by calling 1-800-HELP NOW.

Editor’s note: During his deployment, Doug escorted documentary filmmaker Nancy Hamilton of Golden Eagle Films through the shelter compound. She spoke with some of the shelter residents and offers her impression of the operation at the end of the video, which has been posted on Facebook.

 

Article edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

 

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: January 18-20, 2019

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

January 21, 2019- While many residents all across Northeast Ohio were hunkered down at home, waiting for Winter Storm Harper to pass, American Red Cross disaster workers conquered many obstacles to assist residents in need.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 12 incidents in Akron, Cleveland, East Liverpool, Euclid, Huron, Lodi, North Olmsted, Ravenna and Youngstown. The team assisted 34 adults and 15 children, and distributed more than $10,000 in immediate financial assistance.

With vehicles stuck on side streets and even members of the Red Cross disaster team snowed-in, nothing could keep the NEO Red Cross from reaching across county and chapter lines to assure that residents were assisted during their worst times.

In one such case, a disaster team from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter responded to a call in Lodi, due to members of the Summit, Portage, and Media Counties Chapter team being unable to respond due to being trapped by the snow.

“Regardless of any obstacles we may face, the Red Cross will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of residents,” stated Mike Arthur, disaster program manager, Lake Erie/Heartland and one of the members who responded to the Lodi call. “If that is answering a call to help another chapter or driving in winter weather conditions, there is always a way for us to assist individuals in need.”

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Photo credit: Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross volunteer

Over the weekend, all 12 incidents were home fire responses. Thankfully, there were no reported fatalities.

The Red Cross announced last week that through the home fire campaign, more than 500 lives have now been saved nationally, due to the installation of free smoke alarms and helping residents create an escape plan in the event of a fire.

During the start of fiscal year 2019, from June-November 2018, the NEO Red Cross has installed 5,692 smoke alarms, reached more than 1,300 children through youth preparedness programs and made more than 5,200 homes safer throughout the region.

To learn more about the home fire campaign and to request a smoke alarm, visit the Northeast Ohio home fire campaign page.

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

If you cannot assist financially, there is another way you may help the Red Cross assist those in need. Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are truly the face of the Red Cross.  Visit redcross.org/neo to learn more about volunteer opportunities or to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer.

15 ways to stay safe when Winter Storm Harper hits Northeast Ohio

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

January 18, 2019- With Winter Storm Harper barreling down on Northeast Ohio and threatening significant snow and subzero temperatures this weekend, the American Red Cross has steps you should take to ensure you can enjoy the winter weather, while remaining safe.

HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY

outside-winter-safety-tips-twWith wind chill this weekend potentially being as low as -30 degrees, homes all across Northeast Ohio will certainly have their heating sources working to their full potential. While it is nice to be warm and cozy inside of our homes, it is also important to heat our homes safely.

Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends your follow these steps:

  • All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

For more home fire safety information, visit the Red Cross home fire safety campaign page.

STAY SAFE DURING WINTER WEATHER

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.heating-en
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water. Click here for more tips to keep your four-legged friends safe this weekend.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

With Winter Storm Harper possibly bringing a foot or more of snow to Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross recommends everyone to remain safe by staying off the roads. However, if you must leave your home during the storm, here are some tips to keep you safe while you travel:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

BE RED CROSS READY

To help you and your family prepare for Winter Storm Harper, download and review the Red Cross’ winter storm safety checklist.

DOWNLOAD APPS

North Dakota and Minnesota FloodsYou can also download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps and more are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps

Emergency need: Donors urged to give blood and platelets now

January 16, 2019 – A donation shortfall over the winter holidays is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types, and blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

You can help!

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an emergency need for blood and platelet donors and ask them to #GiveNow.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.
  4. Host a blood drive so others can give – be it at your office location, place of worship or community organization.

Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for trauma victims, premature babies, patients going through cancer treatment and others who depend on transfusions for survival.

The hospitals that rely on blood and blood products collected by the Red Cross regularly hold blood drives of their own. One such hospital is the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Blood Donation 2018

From the days of Clara Barton and our founding, the Red Cross has had a strong relationship with members of the military, veterans and their families.  Every day, the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces provides 24/7 global emergency communication services and support in military and veteran health care facilities across the country and around the world. Furthermore, Susan Fuehrer, director of the Northeast Ohio VA healthcare system, also serves on the Red Cross’ Greater Cleveland board of directors.

On February 1 from 7 AM to 5 PM, the Cleveland VA Medical Center will be hosting a blood drive, which is open to the public.

Are you unable to donate on February 1st, but have space on your calendar on February 12th to give life? Well, you are in luck!  Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights will be hosting its annual blood drive, which is the largest in the region. The blood drive will be held on Tuesday, February 12th at 6111 Landerhaven Drive from 7 AM-7 PM.

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Don’t wait to help. Give now.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: January 11-13, 2019

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

January 14, 2019- While many across Northeast Ohio were inside avoiding the snow and the frigid cold, American Red Cross disaster workers were responding to residents in need.

Home Fire Detroit Michigan 2017During the weekend of January 11-13, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 10 home fires in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Erie, Lorain, Mahoning, Trumbull and Wayne counties. The team assisted 39 adults and 12 children who were affected and distributed more than $8,000 in immediate financial assistance.

If it was not for the tireless commitment and generosity of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce—and they truly are the face of the Red Cross.

Referring to the many volunteers who responded to disasters this past weekend, Home Fire Dubuque, Iowa 2018Renee Palagyi, Senior Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, said, “I’m amazed that these people continue to get out of bed in the middle of the night to provide help and hugs to those in need.  How do you not stand in awe of them?”

If you are interested in making an impact in your local community, 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.

Love to drive? Become a Volunteer Transportation Specialist

By Courtney Roach, Manager, Biomedical Volunteer Workforce Engagement

How does it feel to help save a life? This is your chance to find out! If you have a little free time, love driving, and enjoy meeting new people, the Red Cross has a great volunteer position for you. We are currently seeking Volunteer Transportation Specialists in Cuyahoga County. It’s a unique volunteer position that supports blood pickup at both mobile and fixed site blood drives.

blood 1-11Why Is This Position So Important?

The Red Cross collects and distributes about 40% of our nation’s blood supply. When you pick up blood, platelets or other blood products from a blood collection site or deliver them to a hospital, you’re delivering hope to a person when they need it most.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Transport blood and blood products from blood collection sites to the laboratory for processing
  • Pick up and return boxes as needed
  • Complete required paperwork and obtain signatures
  • Communicate and share feedback between Red Cross personnel and customers
  • Drive in a safe and responsible manner in a Red Cross Vehicle and always provide strong customer.

The Ideal Candidate:

  • Enjoys driving
  • Is physically able to lift up to 50 lbs.
  • Is timely and prompt
  • Is highly self-sufficient and dependable

The vital work of the American Red Cross is made possible by volunteers who contribute their time and talents. Every day our drivers help save people’s lives.

To apply or for more information, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact Melanie Collins at 330-204-6615 or melanie.collins4@redcross.org.