Vermilion Volunteer is Happy to Help After Hurricane in Houston

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By Brad Galvan, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

Paul Mueller is 83 years young. He helps when people need help. The people of Texas needed help. Helping makes him happy.

Paul got a call and packed his bags after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston, Texas. The call came from the American Red Cross, an organization that Paul has been volunteering for since 2001. Over the past 16 years, he has answered similar calls five times, supporting those affected on the west coast during wildfires, in the south for hurricanes and other natural disasters.

This one, the largest hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005, created the need for Paul to help at a Red Cross food and supply distribution center on the outskirts of Houston. The former mechanical engineer and resident of Vermilion, Ohio, spent two weeks organizing and distributing food and water. He also served as a navigator from the passenger seat when trucking the supplies from the distribution center to residents in need.

 

 

Paul, a lifelong learner, took the opportunity to acquire a skill while in storm-ravaged Houston. He says he still needs a little work, but vows that he can handle maneuvering a forklift next time his phone rings, to assist in an American Red Cross supply distribution center!

Mr. Mueller reminds those who are on the fence about volunteering for the Red Cross that seeing the faces of those who are helped is worth it and then some. He said that the simple gesture of handing out bottles of water and donated non-perishable food items made him feel good inside.

Early September was a tough time for Texans, so Paul’s commitment to the Red Cross and his willingness to help strangers made a difference. He said he’ll be ready to serve again the next time the Red Cross calls on him following a disaster.

If you’d like to learn the skills necessary to help people affected by disasters, big and small, visit redcross.org/neo and click on the Volunteer tab.

 

Volunteer Response from NEO Continues to Grow

Red Cross Relief Operations Continue In Texas and the Southeast

The dual disasters caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have mobilized thousands of Red Cross workers, including 60 from Northeast Ohio.

Among the volunteers providing assistance to residents of Texas is Manny Andrews of Akron.

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Akron resident and Red Cross volunteer Manny Andrews

Manny can be seen in this video, helping distribute meals to people in neighborhoods near Houston, where the need for help continues to be great, more than three weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

“They’re just basically cleaning up, and we’re just providing food for them,” said Manny, who  has served with the United States Marine Corps.  “It definitely feels good to know at least I’m doing something.  It’s not a lot, but it’s something they appreciate.”

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Red Cross volunteer Jennifer Hatfield with a hurricane-impacted resident in Brunswick, GA.

Among the Northeast Ohio volunteers helping people affected by Hurricane Irma is Jennifer Hatfield of Ashland.  She is seen in this photo, talking with a woman who was fishing in the Fancy Bluff Creek in Brunswick, Georgia.

It’s the first time the Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher has been assigned to a large disaster relief operation.  “We’re helping a lot of Georgia’s impoverished population,” Jennifer said.

The recovery effort is expected to last for months, and the Red Cross is committed to providing the services needed to help people put their lives back together.  But it’s going to take the help of many trained volunteers.  Zero to Hero training sessions continue to be held throughout Northeast Ohio.  Visit redcross.org/neo and click the VOLUNTEER tab to begin the application process.

Here is the latest information on the Red Cross hurricane relief efforts:

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

  • In the last three weeks, the Red Cross and community partners have provided more than 934,000 overnight stays in emergency shelters due to hurricanes. Shelters were opened in 8 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The Red Cross has served more than 3 million meals and snacks to people in need.
  • More than 6,400 Red Cross disaster workers and almost 300 emergency response vehicles are on the ground right now, helping thousands of people affected by these storms.
  • More than 73 million hurricane and flood alerts have been issued through Red Cross mobile apps for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Hurricane Harvey

  • Overnight, more than 4,600 people stayed in 25 Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas and Louisiana. To date, there have been nearly 394,000 overnight shelter stays provided for Hurricane Harvey.
  • Along with our partners, we have served more than 2.3 million meals and snacks in Texas and Louisiana.
  • More than 3,500 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in Texas and Louisiana, with almost 280 more on the way.
  • More than 170 emergency response vehicles have been activated to help deliver meals and relief supplies across the hardest hit areas of Texas and Louisiana.
  • Mental health and health services professionals have provided nearly 76,000 contacts to provide support and care to people in Texas and Louisiana.
  • We’ve distributed nearly 655,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items, in Texas and Louisiana.
  • The Red Cross has already distributed $45 million in financial assistance to more than 100,000 qualified households who needed immediate help. This assistance has helped more than 365,000 people including more than 10,000 households headed by military veterans.

Hurricane Irma

  • Overnight, almost 3,600 people were provided refuge in 55 government and Red Cross shelters across Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes:
    • In Florida, more than 3,200 people in 47evacuation shelters.
    • In Georgia, 24 people in one shelter.
    • On the U.S. Virgin Islands, 162 people in four evacuation shelters.
    • In Puerto Rico, more than 182 people in three evacuation shelters.
  • To date, evacuation centers have provided more than half a million (541,000) overnight stays to people needing a safe place to go.
  • Along with our partners, we have served more than 747,000 meals and snacks across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • We’ve distributed more than 88,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Mental health and health services professionals have provided more than 16,000 contacts to provide support and care to those affected across six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Nearly 3,000 Red Cross workers are responding to Irma now, with more than 300 more volunteers on the way.
  • More than 120 emergency response vehicles have been activated to help.

 

 

 

Messy, Stressful, Heartwarming; Volunteers Describe Work in Texas

Disaster Workers Return After Two-Week Deployment 

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Northeast Ohio Red Cross volunteers Furman Alden and Sue Wisdom

Furman Alden and Sue Wisdom are back home, after spending two weeks on deployment following Hurricane Harvey.  The Northeast Ohio volunteers spent long hours driving an Emergency Response Vehicle through streets in and around Houston, making sure residents had access to warm meals, water and snacks.

“No one sees skin color, religion or politics,” said Sue, a Lake County resident and a veteran of disaster relief operations.  “From the youngest to the oldest, the way people came together to help each other, it’s heartwarming.”

Sue said several little boys volunteered to help distribute meals, going door-to-door after receiving their own meals and learning about the work of the Red Cross.  “They were amazing,” she said.  “I gave them cookies, and one of them said ‘You are so nice.’  That made may day!”

Furman Alden, also a veteran of disaster work, said he has never seen so much debris piled so high in front of so many houses. The Youngstown resident said, “The whole way down the street, they emptied their houses completely.   Furniture, dry wall, everything. It was messy.”

He says they were the first relief workers to reach a neighborhood that had been cut off by flooded roadways.  “We were the first ones to get in there.  They were so happy to see us.”

It was a struggle getting anywhere.  Furman says driving was stressful, due to bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic.  But the ERV he and Sue drove was a lifeline for so many Texans who lost so much in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

More than 7,000 Red Cross disaster workers responded in Texas, Florida, and other areas hit hard by Harvey and Hurricane Irma, providing the same life-sustaining services that Sue and Furman delivered.  More volunteers are needed to continue the mission.  Visit our website at redcross.org/neo, and click the VOLUNTEER tab to begin an application.

A message from the Volunteer Services Department:

All volunteers must complete a free online volunteer application, which includes acknowledgement of policy statements and a criminal background check

Volunteers will need to successfully complete disaster training before being eligible for potential deployment, this can include a combination of in-person and/or online training

Depending on adjustment of the real-time needs of the disaster locations and your specific abilities- you may not deploy immediately or at all. 

Call 216-431-3328 for more information.

This video was created on the day Sue Wisdom and Furman Alden left Northeast Ohio in response to the residents of Texas following Hurricane Harvey.