Volunteer Response from NEO Continues to Grow

Red Cross Relief Operations Continue In Texas and the Southeast

The dual disasters caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have mobilized thousands of Red Cross workers, including 60 from Northeast Ohio.

Among the volunteers providing assistance to residents of Texas is Manny Andrews of Akron.

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Akron resident and Red Cross volunteer Manny Andrews

Manny can be seen in this video, helping distribute meals to people in neighborhoods near Houston, where the need for help continues to be great, more than three weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

“They’re just basically cleaning up, and we’re just providing food for them,” said Manny, who  has served with the United States Marine Corps.  “It definitely feels good to know at least I’m doing something.  It’s not a lot, but it’s something they appreciate.”

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Red Cross volunteer Jennifer Hatfield with a hurricane-impacted resident in Brunswick, GA.

Among the Northeast Ohio volunteers helping people affected by Hurricane Irma is Jennifer Hatfield of Ashland.  She is seen in this photo, talking with a woman who was fishing in the Fancy Bluff Creek in Brunswick, Georgia.

It’s the first time the Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher has been assigned to a large disaster relief operation.  “We’re helping a lot of Georgia’s impoverished population,” Jennifer said.

The recovery effort is expected to last for months, and the Red Cross is committed to providing the services needed to help people put their lives back together.  But it’s going to take the help of many trained volunteers.  Zero to Hero training sessions continue to be held throughout Northeast Ohio.  Visit redcross.org/neo and click the VOLUNTEER tab to begin the application process.

Here is the latest information on the Red Cross hurricane relief efforts:

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

  • In the last three weeks, the Red Cross and community partners have provided more than 934,000 overnight stays in emergency shelters due to hurricanes. Shelters were opened in 8 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The Red Cross has served more than 3 million meals and snacks to people in need.
  • More than 6,400 Red Cross disaster workers and almost 300 emergency response vehicles are on the ground right now, helping thousands of people affected by these storms.
  • More than 73 million hurricane and flood alerts have been issued through Red Cross mobile apps for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Hurricane Harvey

  • Overnight, more than 4,600 people stayed in 25 Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas and Louisiana. To date, there have been nearly 394,000 overnight shelter stays provided for Hurricane Harvey.
  • Along with our partners, we have served more than 2.3 million meals and snacks in Texas and Louisiana.
  • More than 3,500 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in Texas and Louisiana, with almost 280 more on the way.
  • More than 170 emergency response vehicles have been activated to help deliver meals and relief supplies across the hardest hit areas of Texas and Louisiana.
  • Mental health and health services professionals have provided nearly 76,000 contacts to provide support and care to people in Texas and Louisiana.
  • We’ve distributed nearly 655,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items, in Texas and Louisiana.
  • The Red Cross has already distributed $45 million in financial assistance to more than 100,000 qualified households who needed immediate help. This assistance has helped more than 365,000 people including more than 10,000 households headed by military veterans.

Hurricane Irma

  • Overnight, almost 3,600 people were provided refuge in 55 government and Red Cross shelters across Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes:
    • In Florida, more than 3,200 people in 47evacuation shelters.
    • In Georgia, 24 people in one shelter.
    • On the U.S. Virgin Islands, 162 people in four evacuation shelters.
    • In Puerto Rico, more than 182 people in three evacuation shelters.
  • To date, evacuation centers have provided more than half a million (541,000) overnight stays to people needing a safe place to go.
  • Along with our partners, we have served more than 747,000 meals and snacks across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • We’ve distributed more than 88,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Mental health and health services professionals have provided more than 16,000 contacts to provide support and care to those affected across six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Nearly 3,000 Red Cross workers are responding to Irma now, with more than 300 more volunteers on the way.
  • More than 120 emergency response vehicles have been activated to help.

 

 

 

Messy, Stressful, Heartwarming; Volunteers Describe Work in Texas

Disaster Workers Return After Two-Week Deployment 

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Northeast Ohio Red Cross volunteers Furman Alden and Sue Wisdom

Furman Alden and Sue Wisdom are back home, after spending two weeks on deployment following Hurricane Harvey.  The Northeast Ohio volunteers spent long hours driving an Emergency Response Vehicle through streets in and around Houston, making sure residents had access to warm meals, water and snacks.

“No one sees skin color, religion or politics,” said Sue, a Lake County resident and a veteran of disaster relief operations.  “From the youngest to the oldest, the way people came together to help each other, it’s heartwarming.”

Sue said several little boys volunteered to help distribute meals, going door-to-door after receiving their own meals and learning about the work of the Red Cross.  “They were amazing,” she said.  “I gave them cookies, and one of them said ‘You are so nice.’  That made may day!”

Furman Alden, also a veteran of disaster work, said he has never seen so much debris piled so high in front of so many houses. The Youngstown resident said, “The whole way down the street, they emptied their houses completely.   Furniture, dry wall, everything. It was messy.”

He says they were the first relief workers to reach a neighborhood that had been cut off by flooded roadways.  “We were the first ones to get in there.  They were so happy to see us.”

It was a struggle getting anywhere.  Furman says driving was stressful, due to bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic.  But the ERV he and Sue drove was a lifeline for so many Texans who lost so much in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Nearly 6,000 Red Cross disaster workers are in Texas, Florida, and other areas hit hard by Harvey and Hurricane Irma, providing the same life-sustaining services that Sue and Furman delivered.  More volunteers are needed to continue the mission, and expedited training sessions are scheduled throughout the northeast Ohio Region.  Visit our website at redcross.org/neo, and click the VOLUNTEER tab to begin an application.

A message from the Volunteer Services Department:

All volunteers must complete a free online volunteer application, which includes acknowledgement of policy statements and a criminal background check

Volunteers will need to successfully complete disaster training before being eligible for potential deployment, this can include a combination of in-person and/or online training

Depending on adjustment of the real-time needs of the disaster locations and your specific abilities- you may not deploy immediately or at all. 

Call 216-431-3328 for more information.

This video was created on the day Sue Wisdom and Furman Alden left Northeast Ohio in response to the residents of Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

Volunteer Provides Leadership at Many Levels

Some of us plan barbecues and college football watch parties on Labor Day Weekend.

Not Pam Williams.

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Pam, chairwoman of the board of the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter was waiting to find out if she’ll be headed to the Houston area in response to Hurricane Harvey.

As of Monday night, nearly 300 shelters were open in Texas and Louisiana, with about 35,000 people spending the night.  3,760 Red Cross workers have been deployed to the disaster relief operation so far, including 30 from Northeast Ohio.

In addition to her board responsibilities, Pam is a Red Cross volunteer, and, if needed, would deploy as the assistant director for external relations on the Division Response Management Team.

Over the last ten years, Pam has been deployed around 30 times, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“I get to see the country at its worst, but people at their best.” Pam said.

Pam recalled working with Native American tribes in Montana when asked what was the most interesting thing she’s done on deployment.

“Sometimes it’s the people who have been affected that make the biggest difference. I remember a family during a storm who were offered aid. They pointed to the next family and said ‘they need it more.”

She realizes that what she does isn’t for everyone. If someone were on the fence about volunteering in a crisis, she would ask them why they wanted to do it.

“You have to have a passion for it. It’s not just about being on TV.”

There are a few things that Pam hasn’t done yet on deployment that she’d like to; “I’ve never been deployed to a wildfire. As much as you don’t want it to happen to anyone, I’d like to have that experience. I’d also like the opportunity to ride along in an ERV (emergency response vehicle).”

Pam’s a retired school teacher by trade, and even with 30 deployments under her belt, she’s not ready to kick back and enjoy retirement just yet.

“I’ll keep going as long as I believe I’m contributing. I had two great mentors when I got started, and I’d love to mentor the folks who are coming up.”

If you would like to become a trained volunteer with the skills needed to help people affected by disasters big and small, visit our volunteer site to begin the application process.  Expedited training is currently taking place throughout the Northeast Ohio Region.

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.

Hurricane Harvey: Week One Recap

Northeast Ohio Numbers

  • Northeast Ohioans deployed to the affected areas: 23
  • Emergency Response Vehicles deployed to the affected areas 4 of 4 in NEO
  • Average Individual Deployment: 2 weeks

National Information

  • The Red Cross is working hard to get help to where it is needed. Access into

    August 30, 2017. Delco Center Shelter, Austin, Texas. Red Cross volunteer Caroline Pinkston colors with children staying at a shelter in Austin, Texas. Photo by Chuck Haupt for the American Red Cross

    many areas is still quite difficult, and we are partnering with the U. S. Coast Guard and the Texas National Guard to move supplies and volunteers to where they are needed most. Our first priority is keeping people safe while providing shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on.

  • Estimates indicate more than 33,800 people sought refuge in more than 240 Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas Tuesday night.
  • Six shelters are also open in Louisiana with more than 450 people.

How we respond

  • Massive disasters like Hurricane Harvey create more needs than any one organization can meet on their own. The Red Cross is working very closely with the entire response community – government agencies, other non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others – to coordinate emergency relief efforts and get help to people as quickly as possible.
  • The Red Cross is working dozens of disaster partners to support feeding, child care, disaster assessment and other disaster services. Some of the partners we are coordinating with include Americorps NCCC, Church of the Brethren Children’s Disaster Services, Save the Children, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and Islamic Relief USA.
  • We have trailers of kitchen supplies on the ground to support 6 kitchens, each

    August 29, 2017. George R. Brown Convention Center, Red Cross Mega Shelter, Houston, Texas. Texas Gulf Coast Region board member, Amy Gasea and event based volunteer, Emanuel Castillo, hand out hot meals to shelter residents at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Amy has been a board member since 2014 and is an assigned volunteer to the Disaster Relief Operation. Amy was originally assigned to supporting the operation in the planning function, but jumped in to assist as the Feeding Manager of the GRB Convention Center when a leader was needed. Photo by Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross

    able to produce 10,000 meals a day and 6 more trailers are on the way. We also have about 116,000 ready-to-eat meals currently on the ground with an additional 39,000 en route. More than half of our emergency response fleet – 200 Emergency Response Vehicles – have been activated for the operation. Shelters are standing by in other states, including Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas, in case they are needed.

  • With blood products prepositioned in Houston and Dallas ahead of the storm, the Red Cross continues to work closely with local, state and federal authorities to deliver blood and platelets to our hospital partners in flood affected areas.
  • After the effects of the storm passes, we are offering emotional support and health services, and distributing emergency relief supplies such as comfort kits and cleaning supplies. But our work doesn’t end there; the Red Cross also plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet.

Donations

  • The Red Cross has launched a massive response to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.
  • We thank everyone for their overwhelming support for people impacted by this catastrophic storm. If you are having issues with text donations, please visit redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS to donate.
  • We know Americans are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster. Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.
  • It takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. In contrast, financial donations can be accessed quickly to support those affected, and be put to use right away. With a financial donation, individuals can buy what they need and want.
  • Storing donated items can also result in thousands of dollars in warehousing, cleaning, transportation and handling fees – whereas financial donations allow us to be flexible to give those directly affected by Harvey what they need most.

Volunteers

  • Hundreds of experienced American Red Cross volunteers and employees are

    August 29, 2017. George R. Brown Convention Center, Red Cross Mega Shelter, Houston, Texas. Red Cross volunteer, Rabia Vaid comforts six week old, Anaya Rizwan. Photo by Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross

    working around the clock to provide shelter and supplies to Gulf Coast residents affected by Harvey.

  • The Red Cross appreciates the overwhelming interest of the public to volunteer. Please be patient–with the tremendous outpouring of support we are seeing, it will take some time to reach out to all those who have signed up to volunteer.
  • Please also remember that, when connecting with the Red Cross or other volunteer groups, check first to learn about current opportunities and when volunteers are needed—before traveling to the affected areas independently. Access to relief operation areas is extremely difficult and search and rescue efforts are still ongoing.
  • The effects of Harvey will be felt for a long time. Today or in the future, if you would like to volunteer with the Red Cross, you should visit the volunteer section of redcross.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to apply to be a volunteer. This will allow those interested to help on large disasters like Hurricane Harvey, but also when smaller disasters like home fires happen in local communities.

Youngstown-area Volunteers Head into Smoke and Fire of California

Three American Red Cross volunteers from the Northeast Ohio Region are being deployed to California, where a wildfire has forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Randy Liang of Cuyahoga Falls will help support the technology needs of the Red Cross disaster relief operation in Mariposa County, California.

Mark Strausser and Jason Mitman (in video, above) of Youngstown will work with residents who are staying in shelters as a result of the wildfire.

Red Cross workers and partners helping to provide a safe place to stay and three meals a day for hundreds of displaced residents.

“We help people here, at home, every day,” said Mitman, referring to the help Red Cross workers offer to Northeast Ohio residents who experience home fires and other disasters.  “Now I get to help people in California.  This is why I volunteer for the Red Cross.”

Other volunteers from Northeast Ohio may also be deployed to help in the days to come.

For information on volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/neo, and click on the Volunteer tab.

We Love When Our Corporate Partners Lend a Hand!

Last Thursday began Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s week of volunteering at organizations across the Akron area, and involving more than 1,100 of its local employees.

“It is vital to our mission to provide volunteer opportunities to our local corporations,” said Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter. “Not only does it help us get the work done, but it allows individuals, like those from Goodyear, to see with their own eyes the power and need for our services in the lives of those who we serve.”

Our first team of 16 employees from Goodyear headed out into the community to install 111 smoke alarms, and provided education to 34 homes as part of Operation Save-A-Life.

Several volunteers have stated that it is an experience that they would like to repeat in the future.

On Tuesday, 17 team members helped to make our Akron office a little more beautiful by cleaning out and planting new flowers in the beds facing West Market St. Volunteers also helped clean and organize the garage area.

See more photos on the chapter’s Facebook page, or sign up to be a volunteer the rest of the 358 days of the year!