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.

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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.

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.

Wanted: Volunteers for Volunteers

New leadership positions available for volunteers

By Melanie Collins, Senior Volunteer Recruitment Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

If you are a Red Cross volunteer, you are one of more than 1,600 Red Cross volunteers in the Northeast Ohio region.  Did you know that dozens of volunteers serve in leadership capacities? Leadership volunteers play an integral role in strategic planning, monitoring service delivery and ensuring the organization exceeds its goals.  This month we are highlighting leadership needs within the Volunteer Services Department and information about a new volunteer role – Volunteer Recruiter/Team Member, who will be supporting the department with outreach and recruitment of new volunteers.

Below is the list of opportunities and we are asking you to share these with your network – friends, family and colleagues! If you know someone who is interested in volunteering with us or would like to learn more, CLICK HERE to fill out a referral form. You will have a chance to win a bag of Red Cross merchandise!

Volunteer Services Engagement Lead
Duties: Oversees the Volunteer Experience for those serving in the region. They are a resource for volunteer supervisors in all lines of service (Disaster Cycle Services, Biomedical, etc.) and will work closely with the Volunteer Services Sr. Engagement Specialist. Commitment: Approximately 10 hours per month, working on-site and remotely.

Volunteer Services Recognition and Appreciation Lead
Duties: Oversees the development and implementation of both formal and informal chapter recognition efforts and promotes formal regional recognition programs. Commitment: Approximately 2 hours per month, working remotely and on-site. Greater commitment of time during the annual recognition periods.

Volunteer Services Volunteer Connection Lead
Duties: Serves as an ambassador of the official American Red Cross volunteer management system.  Oversees the utilization and enhancement of Volunteer Connection. Commitment: Approximately 4 hours per week, working remotely and on-site.

Volunteer Recruiter/Team Member
Duties: Assists the Volunteer Services team to implement the regional workforce recruitment plan. Helps us research places of where we may recruit for volunteers.  This may be via social media, hanging up flyers or asking groups if the Red Cross can come in and make a presentation to their group.  Commitment: 2 – 4 hours/month, working remotely or on-site.

Those interested can apply by clicking on the position title! For more information visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact Melanie Collins at 330-204-6615 or melanie.collins4@redcross.org