Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: February 15-17, 2019

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

February 18, 2019- Over the weekend, the American Red Cross was once again very active responding to calls across Northeast Ohio and assisting residents who have suffered a local disaster.

IMG_5580During the weekend of February 15-17, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 12 incidents, including at least one disaster in each of the five chapters in the region. The disaster team assisted 28 adults and 11 children, and provided more than $9,000 in immediate financial assistance.

Unfortunately, one of the weekend disaster responses was a home fire in Mingo Junction that resulted in one adult fatality. The Red Cross is saddened by this tragedy. We will remain in contact with the victim’s family to provide assistance, such as support from disaster mental health workers.

The vast majority of local disasters that the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responds to are home fires. Every 24 hours, on average, the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio responds to three home fires. To learn how you can protect your family from home fires and to request a free smoke alarm installation, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.Sound the Alarm Colorado 2018

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 support the Red Cross monetarily but 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.

NEO Red Cross volunteer to be honored by Cuyahoga County Veterans Council

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

February 15, 2019- Bill Conley was taking part in an amphibious landing exercise on the island of Vieques off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast when he received the bad news: his grandmother had passed away. Word came to his commanding officer, after his mother had contacted the American Red Cross.

He was sent home to attend the funeral.  He was 19 years old.

“I remember very distinctly, I vowed to myself that if I could, someday I would pay them back for helping me get home,” Bill said. More than 55 years later, Bill continues to offer that pay back, by volunteering with the Red Cross at the headquarters of the Northeast Ohio Region.

“I believe in the mission. I won’t leave as long as my health holds out.”

Bill is the Regional Mass Care Manager and a logistics supervisor, and helps plan for and execute sheltering, feeding and other services the Red Cross provides. He has been a Red Cross volunteer since the year 2000.

Bill’s continuing work with the Red Cross and his experience in the U. S. Navy are now intersecting. He has been named the 2019 Outstanding Veteran of the Year by the Joint Veterans Council of Cuyahoga County.

He said the recognition is truly gratifying.

“I treasure this honor, because now I have this real connection with people in the armed forces, because of my experience in the Navy and what the Red Cross was able to do for me when I was there.”

When he joined the Navy at age 17, Bill said he didn’t have focus. “The military provided the structure and the discipline I needed.”

Now, all these years later, Bill said the Red Cross provides him with the opportunity he needs to help others.

“Providing immediate assistance after people go through a house fire or some other disaster, that is my most rewarding experience.”

If you have an interest in helping others, like Bill does, visit redcross.org/neo and click “Volunteer” to start an application.

If you’d like to cheer Bill on as he receives his Outstanding Veteran of the Year award, attend the 94th anniversary luncheon of the Joint Veterans Council of Cuyahoga County on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.  Visit here for tickets or call 216-373-7799.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

 

Wanted: Health professionals to help those in need

February 8, 2019- The American Red Cross relies on more than 20,000 nurses and other health professionals who bring our mission to life each day. If you’re a nurse, nursing student or other health professional, we need your help! There are volunteer opportunities in direct service, leadership and behind-the-scenes.  A few examples are:

  • Disaster Health Services –team members and leaders
  • Disaster Mental Health Services –team members and leaders
  • Pillowcase Project Instructor (educating 3rd-5th graders about disasters)
  • Blood Donor Ambassador Leader
  • Nursing Network Regional Nurse Leaders and team members
  • Service to the Armed Forces Hero Care Case Management

We hope that you consider volunteering with the Red Cross – you can have a meaningful impact by serving individuals and communities.

 

 

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

 

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: February 1-3, 2019

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

February 4, 2019 – While many across Northeast Ohio were making last minute preparations to enjoy a Sunday filled with snacks and the Super Bowl, the American Red Cross was out assisting residents who just suffered a local disaster.

During the weekend of February 1-3, Red Cross of Northeast Ohio disaster action team members responded to 14 incidents and at least one disaster in each of the five chapters that make up the region. The team assisted 43 adults, 17 children and provided $14,650 in immediate financial assistance.

IMG_1758One of the incidents the disaster team responded to was a multiple family home fire in Ravenna on Friday, when the temperatures in Northeast Ohio where still below freezing.

“We were incredibly fortunate and thankful that the manager of the Ravenna 7 Movie theater opened his doors and allowed us the use of one of his theaters to get the residents out of the cold and allowed us to interview them. And they even provided popcorn and drinks to everyone!,” said Debbie Chitester, disaster program manager for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Chapter, who responded to the incident.

Debbie added, “The team of volunteers were able to assist the residents of the nine units with direct client assistance quickly.  At the exact same time as that fire, we had another team in Medina responding to a single-family home fire. It only highlights that our volunteers are the true face of the Red Cross and without their support we would not be able to do all the great work we do to support the residents of Northeast Ohio”

The Red Cross of Northeast Ohio also provided a canteen in Cleveland on Sunday IMG_4123during an industrial fire, where snacks and beverages were handed out to support approximately 30 first responders.

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.

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.

NEO Red Cross responds to local emergencies despite dangerous temps

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

January 31, 2019 – Over the past 24 hours, despite subzero temperatures across the region, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio was active responding to local emergencies.

Not even frigid temperatures could slow the Red Cross down when it comes to helping those in need.  

Beginning in the morning of January 30, through the early morning hours of January 31, Red Cross disaster teams responded to 13 incidents in Akron, Alliance Ashtabula, Canton, Cleveland, Elyria, Mansfield, Plymouth, Rome, Salem, Sandusky, Tremont and Woodmere.  Disaster workers assisted nearly 50 residents and provided more than $12,000 in immediate financial assistance.

The photos above were taken by Lora Taylor, the disaster program manager for the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter, who responded to a home fire in Sandusky. While the weather in the photos may seem peaceful, Lora stated, “That sun can be very bitterly deceiving.” She added, “We have amazing volunteers, and as we do what we do, we could not do it without them.” Lora was joined by disaster volunteer Carol Grant during the home fire response.

Unfortunately, one of the incidents was a home fire in Akron, which resulted in the deaths of an adult and three children occupants. While we are saddened by this tragedy, the Red Cross will remain in contact with the victims’ family to offer aid, such as support from disaster mental health workers.

Beyond providing support to residents who suffered a local disaster, the Red Cross also established a canteen in Tremont to provide food and beverages to first responders and emergency crews battling a water main break overnight.

Ben Bellucci, the newest disaster program manager for the Greater Cleveland Chapter, responded to the water main break, his second disaster response as a member of the NEO Red Cross team. Regarding the importance of providing the canteen during the cold temperatures, Ben said, “By providing something warm to drink and a snack to keep the energy of the first responders up during a cold night is the reason why we loved supporting those that keep our community safe.”  He heaped praise on the volunteers who responded in temperatures nearing -25 with the wind chill factor.  “The disaster action team knew it was important to provide them with something of comfort. Our volunteers did an amazing job responding to this canteen request as well as providing services to multiple calls that were going on at the same time.”

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 provide financial assistance but you are interested in making an impact in local communities, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. Visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

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.

doug photo 1

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.

doug photo 2

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.

doug photo 3

doug photo 4

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.

doug photo 5

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.

doug photo 6

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.

doug photo 7

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.