Disaster Workers Busy Helping Fire Victims Over Easter Weekend

Volunteers are at the heart of the Red Cross.

That has never been more apparent in Northeast Ohio as it has been in the last week. Since Friday, April 7, there have been 4 apartment building fires, in Boardman, Warrensville Heights, Parma and Cuyahoga Falls.  More than 180 residents have been chased from their homes during that time, including more than 60 children.

Red Cross disaster workers, the bulk of them volunteers, have responded to each of these emergencies, providing initial financial assistance, comfort and hope to people who, in some cases, have lost everything.

Red Cross Disaster workers open a reception center in the Warrensville Heights Civic Center in response to an apartment building fire on Monday, April 10, 2017.

As Chief Operating Officer Jorge Martinez notes,  “This is very impressive.  I’m always awed by volunteers.  Doing some quick math, they amassed nearly 59,000 volunteer hours (and we know there’s more that’s gone unrecorded).  That’s an average of 27 employees putting in an 8 hour workday 7 days a week over the past 9 months.  Given our current staffing, they more than doubled our capacity.”

Between Friday, April 7 and Friday April 14, Red Cross disaster workers offered initial financial assistance totaling more than $35,000 to the affected residents.  And they opened a shelter in Cuyahoga Falls, for residents affected by Thursday night’s fire.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Ongoing assistance includes helping match residents with the agencies and resources that will help them plan their next moves.  And those in need have been offered mental health assistance, as well as help with medical needs, such as filling prescriptions.

On Easter Sunday, volunteers Teresa Greenlief, Jamie Waid and Bob Rupp played basketball with Bob Loch and Mike Surrel, two of the Cuyahoga Falls residents staying in a Red Cross shelter.

Photo Credit: Zackery McAvoy/American Red Cross

A final word from COO Jorge Martinez: “We’re truly lucky to have these volunteers in my opinion.  Great work.”

Visit redcross.org/neo and click the volunteer tab to learn more about opportunities to help those in need.

2016, a Year That Set New Weather Records

West Virginia Floods 2016

In a year that set new records for severe and devastating weather, the Red Cross provided more assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by these disasters all across the United States than in the past two years combined.

In 2016, 32,000 Red Cross volunteers responded to 180 significant disasters in 45 states and two U.S. territories including wildfires, storms, flooding, Hurricane Matthew and other emergencies. Volunteers from Northeast Ohio deployed to disaster affected areas nearly 140 times this year.

“People impacted by disaster are facing what can be their darkest days. This year a seemingly endless chain of disasters affected hundreds of thousands of people and the Red Cross was there, helping,” said Mike Parks, Northeast Ohio’s CEO. “But we need your support now to continue providing help to families affected by disasters.” The Red Cross depends on generous financial donations to provide services.

As of December 4, the Red Cross provided the following help to people impacted by disasters across the country this year:

  • Opened nearly 800 emergency shelters, providing 206,000 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes
  • Served more than 4.1 million meals and snacks
  • Distributed more than 2.1 million relief items

Home Fires Continued to be Largest U.S. Disaster Threat

Declan&OldAlarmAmidst all of these devastating events, home fires continued to be the largest disaster threat in the United States. During 2016, the Red Cross provided casework assistance to help 79,000 families recover after a home fire left them with nowhere else to turn. The Red Cross and thousands of local partners are also working to help prevent home fires, deaths and injuries. Since 2014, at least 116 lives have been saved through the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, locally known as Operation Save-A-Life, a total of 574,000 smoke alarms have been installed, and 625,000 youth have been taught about fire safety.

Here in the Northeast Ohio Region, the Red Cross responded to over 970 home fires across 22 counties and provided more than $720,000 in financial assistance to those local families affected by disasters. Through the help of community partnerships, the Red Cross installed over 13,000 smoke alarms from July 2015 to June 2016.

World’s Largest Humanitarian Network Responds to Global Disasters

Before Hurricane Matthew hit the United States, the storm made landfall in Haiti, leaving widespread flooding, damage to infrastructure and major crop and livestock loss. The American Red Cross delivered critical relief, including supplies to reduce the increased threat of cholera in the country.

A massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada threatened dozens of communities in the spring. The American Red Cross deployed almost 100 employees and volunteers to help.

Ecuador Earthquake 2016A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador in April, cutting off remote communities and causing severe damage to the country’s infrastructure. Red Cross societies from all over the world stepped in to help.

 

2016 has been the deadliest year for refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, with more than 4,000 people dead as they try to cross from Libya to Europe. The American Red Cross has contributed funds to help meet the needs of refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life in Europe, including the deployment of a disaster specialist aboard a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean Sea.

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting http://www.redcross.org/neo, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Shaker Heights Resident Turns to Red Cross for Help Following Home Fire

Volunteers Respond to Provide Assistance for Immediate Needs

After Keith Dulin’s kitchen caught fire in November, the intense stench made it difficult for him to stay in his apartment in Shaker Heights.

fire-damage

Dulin tried to return that night, but slept in his car because he was overwhelmed by the reek of grease fire, which burned his stove and surrounding cabinets and wall. Familiar with the type of services provided by the Red Cross, he reached out for assistance.

“It was unbearable, trying to stay in the apartment,” Dulin said. “I needed another place to stay, and I knew the Red Cross could help.”

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Keith Dulin receives help from Red Cross volunteers Bill Geschke and Felicia Lee after a fire damaged his apartment in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “I am trying to give back to people who are less fortunate,” Geschke said. “I volunteer for other organizations, but the work I do for the Red Cross gives me the most satisfaction.”

After meeting with two Red Cross volunteers at his home, Dulin received a comfort kit with necessities like toiletries, as well as assistance to help cover food and alternative lodging to help get him back on his feet.

Volunteers like Felicia Lee and Bill Geschke respond to an average of three home fires a night in Northeast Ohio.  If you have an interest in volunteering, visit our website or call 216-431-3328.

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Red Cross volunteers Bill Geschke and Felicia Lee

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

How Can You Help Baton Rouge?

The Red Cross continues to provide hope, shelter and meals to those affected in Louisiana.

If you are asking yourself, “How can I help them?” Well, it’s as easy as sending a text (if you can’t do it yourself, may I recommend finding your nearest 5-year-old as they are shockingly amazing at it.) Simply text LAFLOODS to 90999 and a ten dollar donation to the American Red Cross will appear on your next cellular phone bill. Those with iPhones can also make a $5-$200 donation through iTunes and the App Store.

This donation will help us provide services and relief items to those affected by flooding in Louisiana.

Seven days in to the response, Red Cross shelters have hosted over 42,000 overnight stays. Nearly 2,800 remain in shelters. This is a number not typically seen this many days into an operation.

We have distributed 250,000 meals and snacks in shelters and communities.

Many are starting the work of rebuilding their lives; this is the next phase of a disaster response. Teams of Red Cross workers, including more than a dozen volunteers from Northeast Ohio, are in communities where the waters have receded, surveying the damage done and helping families navigate available financial and well-being assistance. Red Cross trucks from around the country are out providing meals and cleaning supplies to those tackling the job of repairing their homes.

The current estimate for the Red Cross response in Louisiana stands at $30 million.

Local Red Cross Volunteers Help Neighbors in West Virginia

Thousands of Residents Affected by Devastating Floods

Six volunteers from Northeast Ohio are among the Red Cross workers assisting West Virginians affected by summer flooding.

The floods were caused by heavy rain that fell on Thursday, June 23.  More than two dozen fatalities have been attributed to the flooding, and thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed.

“I am always in awe of the power of something so simple as water,” said Mary Williams, a Red Cross Communications Officer from the Northeast Ohio Region, who arrived in West Virginia on Saturday, along with a growing number of volunteers.

“The number of volunteers responding to this disaster is amazing,” said Charlotte Rerko, Chief Operating Officer of the Northeast Ohio Region.  “It’s people helping people at it’s best.”

Red Cross volunteers are providing support and comfort to people affected by the flooding, by operating or supporting 13 shelters for people who lost their homes or who were forced to evacuate.  Some 1,200 people had a safe, dry place to stay Sunday night.

An Emergency Response Vehicle based at the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties chapter in Akron was also dispatched to the area, to bring food and other supplies to the flood-affected residents of West Virginia.

Because it’s such a traumatic time for so many families unexpectedly forced from their homes,  Red Cross disaster mental health workers have also been sent to the area to give the residents guidance on how to prepare for the return to their homes.  And Red Cross health workers are helping to replace needed items like prescription medications and eyeglasses.

More help is on the way, with more volunteers, emergency vehicles and other supplies on the way to West Virginia.  As of Monday, there were 150 Red Cross personnel assisting with the recovery effort.

We need your help.  Entire families have lost their homes and everything they own.  Your support will help people affected by disasters big and small.  You can donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org  or calling 1-800 RED CROSS.  Or you can make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

You can prepare for floods and stay safe when they occur by following a few steps, including:

  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and heed evacuation orders when given. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App,  to have safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations available on your mobile device.

Metropolis Red Cross Responds to Latest Battle

Article reprint courtesy of today’s Daily Planet

As so-called “Heroes” battle in the skies above the city, the American Red Cross of Metropolis Chapter has quietly begun to set up services for those displaced by the most recent disaster.

“When villains call out Superman, Red Cross workers know that a disaster response will not be far behind,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Manager for the Metropolis Chapter. “Now that we have the dark knight of Gotham added to the mix, we have braced for an even larger response.”

Those displaced by the fighting can find shelter by visiting www.redcross.org/shelter. Red Cross volunteers will be on site to provide financial assistance and vital services, including mental health.

As first responders continue to work on the destruction left in the wake of these super men (and reportedly at least one woman), the Red Cross is on scene to provide coffee, water and snacks to those fighting the blazes.

For more information on the response of the Metropolis Red Cross, or to get info on your local chapter, subscribe to www.neoredcross.org.

You can also donate to “this” and other local disasters by going to www.redcross.org/donate, calling 1 800 RED CROSS, or texting RED CROSS to 90999.

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(Batman v Superman opens today. For times and locations check out this link here.)