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.

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.

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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

Red Cross Helps Cleveland Family Displaced by Fire

Children Receive Stuffed Toys to Help Them Through Crisis

Cara Hunt was at home with her three young children when their upstairs caught fire in September.

The Cleveland family escaped unharmed, but the fire stripped them of their basic necessities and left them with no place to sleep.

 

As firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, two American Red Cross workers responded to offer relief. They gave each child a stuffed animal toy to help calm their fears, and provided financial assistance to cover temporary lodging for the family, whose home was deemed unlivable.

Cleveland Fire Battalion Captain Chris Posante, who connected Hunt with the Red Cross workers, underscored the importance of this support.

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Red Cross worker Mark Cline offers assistance to resident Cara Hunt

“These are good people who are suffering through no fault of their own,” Posante said. “The help you give them is much needed.”

You can help people who have been driven from their homes by fire when you donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief, at redcross.org/donate, or by calling 1-800 RED CROSS.  You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

 

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Red Cross worker Jeremy Bayer offers stuffed toys to children driven from their home by fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight-year-old honored for saving sister life

Trinity holds her sister, Londyn, at the school’s assembly in her honor.

On a cold night in March, 8-year-old Trinity Seymour woke to the sound of a blaring smoke detector.  The piercing sound of several smoke alarms was scary to her 3-year-old sister, Londyn who had run into their shared closet while covering her ears. The family had recently moved into the apartment building, however, Trinity’s grandfather, Scott Bentley would not allow his daughter’s family to move in until he purchased and installed three smoke detectors.

Trinity knew what to do.

Red Cross staff member, Tim Reichel, had recently spoken at her school about fire safety.  “Stay calm,” Trinity thought to herself. “Get Londyn and get out of here!”  Trinity went to the closet, consoled Londyn, picked her up and calmly exited the home.   “Mr. Tim says you should stand very far away from the burning building so I told everyone to stand across the street.” The Navarre Fire Department quickly responded to the apartment fire that displaced four families.  The Red Cross was on the scene and provided bedding, clothing, shoes and seasonal clothing to all the families.  In addition, Red Cross volunteers consoled the distraught families and provided much needed hugs and emotional support.

Navarre apartment fire.  Everyone escaped without injury.

Navarre apartment fire. Everyone escaped without injury

A week later, Tim received an email from Trinity’s teacher, Holly Charton.  After explaining Trinity’s home fire and her heroic act in rescuing her sister, Ms. Charton explained, “Her grandpa told me that someone at our school did a fabulous job teaching her what do when there is a fire. I told him that person was Mr. Tim from the Red Cross!”

Tim Reichel fist bumps a Fairless Elementary student.

Tim Reichel fist bumps a Fairless Elementary student.

On March 14, 2015 the Fairless Elementary school held a school assembly to honor Trinity.  As a surprise, her family was there as she received the Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Action from the Red Cross and an award from the Navarre Fire Department.  Her story appeared on the front page of the Massillon Independent and on Channel 5 news in Cleveland. At the assembly Grandfather Scott Bentley thanked the school and the Red Cross for educating the students on fire safety.  “Smoke detectors do save lives,” said Bentley.  “After the fire, I stood in the closet where Londyn hid and nothing survived that fire.  Thank god my little girls knew what to do and got out!” Although Trinity is very shy and was overwhelmed with the attention, she did wear her Red Cross medal for the rest of the school day.

Trinity Seymour and Tim Reichel

Trinity Seymour and Tim Reichel