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.

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.

 

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.

NEO Red Cross disaster response team was busy during first half of FY ’19

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

As the ball dropped in Times Square, it not only marked the end of 2018, but it also marked the closure of the first half of fiscal year 2019 for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.

dunham ave 2The Red Cross runs on a fiscal year calendar that runs from July to June. The first six months of FY ’19 were especially active for the Red Cross responding to local disasters and assisting residents in need in the region.

During the six-month period, Northeast Ohio disaster services workers responded to 804 cases, assisting 1,409 adults, 784 children and provided $400,041 in financial assistance to those affect by the disasters, such as home fires. To show the impact on the region, during the same six-month period in FY ’18, the Red Cross responded to 648 cases, assisted 1,130 adults, 712 children and provided $343,576 in financial assistance.

Unfortunately, disasters do not respect zip codes or county borders, as every region in Northeast Ohio was impacted from July to December. However, no matter where an emergency occurs, the Red Cross will be there to assist those in need. Below are FY ’19 numbers for all five regions:

  • Greater Cleveland: 379 cases, 1,021 individuals assisted, $152,437 in financial assistance
  • Lake to River: 140 cases, 394 individuals assisted, $77,559 in financial assistance
  • Lake Erie/Heartland: 114 cases, 330 individuals assisted, $70,647 in financial assistance
  • Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties: 104 cases, 269 individuals assisted, $60,028 in financial assistance
  • Stark and Muskingum Lakes: 67 cases, 182 individuals assisted, $39,370 in financial assistance

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 IMG_1758those 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.

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.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 21-23, 2018

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

Over the weekend, as people across Northeast Ohio were getting last minute tasks done to prepare for the holidays, the American Red Cross was responding to residents suffering from local disasters.

Sound the Alarm - Ohio 2018During the weekend of December 21-23, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to nine incidents in Cuyahoga, Mahoning, Summit and Wayne Counties. The incidents affected 24 adults, 16 children and resulted in the distribution of more than $8,000 in immediate financial assistance by the Red Cross.

Unfortunately, one of the nine incidents was a home fire in Cuyahoga County, which resulted in the fatality of an adult occupant and critical injuries to a two year old child. While the Red Cross is saddened by this tragedy during a time focused on happiness, the Red Cross will remain in contact with the victim’s family to provide assistance, such as support from disaster mental health workers. Louisiana Floods 2016

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

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.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 14-16, 2018

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

Over the weekend, the American Red Cross was once again very active responding to the needs of the residents of Northeast Ohio.

California Wildfires 2018During the weekend of December 14-16, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to seven incidents occurring in four of the five chapters in the region. The incidents occurred in Cuyahoga, Jefferson, Mahoning, Richland, Summit and Trumbull counties, resulting in 18 individuals receiving assistance and the distribution of more than $4,000 in immediate financial assistance.

While Northeast Ohio is not often impacted by large natural disasters, it does not mean the difficulty of those natural disasters are not felt in the region. Over the weekend, the Red Cross provided assistance to two families in Cuyahoga and Summit counties who each lost loved ones during the recent California wildfires. The families received financial support to assist with funeral expenses, and were provided access to Red Cross disaster mental health workers to aid in the grieving process.

“The care we provided the local families who were next of kin to women who died in theCalifornia Wildfires 2018 Camp Fire in California was under our Integrated Care Team,” stated Renee Palagyi, senior disaster program manager. “Integrated Care Team allows a family to have two or three key contact people from Red Cross who are available for an in-person visit and follow-up phone calls. Assistance included a relatively small amount of money to be used for any death-related or other expenses they may encounter. More importantly, we provided a local touch, both through our caseworker and our disaster mental health professional. In talking with these women, they were incredibly grateful to receive my call and to know that they would have someone specifically assigned to talk with them over the next several weeks as they work through pain I can’t begin to imagine.”

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross in continuing 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.