Red Cross and partners Sound the Alarm in Richmond Heights

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

October 14, 2019- During the weekend of October 11-13, 2019, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 7 home fires, assisted 34 individuals, including 14 children and provided more than $7,300 in immediate financial assistance.

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The Red Cross is committed to helping to put an end to home fires in Northeast Ohio through the Home Fire Campaign.

As part of the campaign, the Red Cross holds Sound the Alarm events throughout the region to install free smoke alarms, such as the event held in Richmond Heights on October 12.

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Forty volunteers from partners Selman & Company, HOPE worldwide and the Richmond Heights CERT community response team installed 222 smoke alarms and made 83 homes safer.

“Thank you to the volunteers from Selman & Company, HOPE worldwide and the Richmond Heights CERT for helping make another Sound the Alarm installation event a success. With their assistance, we were able to ensure more homes in Northeast Ohio will be prepared in case of a home fire,” said Tim O’Toole, Red Cross regional disaster officer. “A special thank you to our partners with the Richmond Heights Fire Department, who will continue to install free smoke alarms in homes throughout their community.”

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“Saturday’s Sound the Alarm was a wonderful event. Everyone at Selman & Company who participated has said that it was the best volunteer event the company have ever done,” stated Brinton Lincoln, Greater Cleveland Chapter board member. “Thank you so very much for everyone’s efforts to make Saturday a success.”

Holly Tackett, Human Resources Generalist for Selman and Company, said, “The SelmanCo volunteer team has not stopped talking about their experience this past Saturday and they are even educating their peers and family on home safety. This was truly an impactful event that has changed lives – both the residents of the homes we installed in and SelmanCo team members.”

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, including how to request a free smoke alarm, donate, or help make homes safer, please click here.  Additional information regarding the national Home Fire Campaign is available here. Both sites include fire safety and prevention tips, checklists, and tools.

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To see more photos from the Richmond Heights installation event, please visit our Flickr page.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri, American Red Cross volunteer

 

NEO Shelter Closes

The longest-running shelter operation in Northeast Ohio in recent memory has ended.

For 11 nights, residents of the Loganberry Ridge Apartments in Richmond Heights spentIMG_6247 the overnights away from their homes, with some of their neighbors and American Red Cross workers as they waited for their homes to be deemed safe enough to reoccupy.  A fire on July 20, 2018 forced them from their apartments, and repairs kept them away until July 31.

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Red Cross volunteers Monica Bunner, left, and Sue Wisdom with a shelter resident

 

During that time, more than 50 Red Cross volunteers staffed the shelter, 24 hours a day.  The shelter operation began at Richmond Heights High School, where officials were able to move quickly to help accommodate nine residents the first night.  Due to previously scheduled school activities, the shelter location moved to the Christian Assembly Church on nearby Chardon Road, where an average of seven residents took shelter for the next nine nights.

“We operated a shelter for seven days in 2006, when the Grand River flooded in Painesville,” said Debbie Chitester, who has worked for the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio for more than 25 years.  She served as Director of Operations for the Richmond Heights shelter.  “We made sure the residents were safe, and tried to give them a home away from home.”

“Every one of my needs have been met,” said Tracy Foster, one of the Richmond Heights residents who stayed in the shelter. “I’ve had plenty of water, plenty of sandwiches, lunch, breakfast and dinner.”  Tracy was featured in a video on day three of the shelter operation.

Almost 1,000 meals and snacks were served during the 11-night shelter operation.  The cost of food and water, logistics, technology, and immediate financial assistance the Red Cross committed to giving residents affected by the fire totaled nearly $11,000.  The funds for assisting victims of disasters are only available because of the generosity of donors, and the power of volunteers, who mobilize every time disaster strikes in Northeast Ohio and across the country.  You can donate to the Red Cross or volunteer to help your neighbors during their darkest hours by visiting redcross.org/neo.

See more photos from the shelter operation here.

Red Cross Responds to Richmond Heights Apartment Fire

After spending a second night in an American Red Cross shelter at Richmond Heights High School, Tracy Foster felt relieved.

“Every one of my needs have been met.  I’ve been able to shower, feed my cat, and got breakfast lunch and dinner.”

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Foster is one of the residents of the Loganberry Ridge Apartments who stayed in the shelter, after dozens were chased from their homes by fire on Friday, July 20, 2018.  Because of the potential need to provide lodging for so many people, the Red Cross established the shelter with the assistance of Richmond Heights Local Schools.

Most residents found alternative lodging arrangements.  But on Friday night, nine residents took shelter in the school.

Red Cross partners at the Salvation Army supplied dinner on Friday night, and the Cleveland Animal Protective League delivered supplies for the dog and two cats the residents brought with them. Pets that aren’t service animals aren’t normally permitted in a Red Cross shelter, but Richmond Heights school officials made an exception.

“It means everything to me to have my love here with me,” Tracy said of her cat Diamond.  “She’s a house cat.  She’s always home.  The fact that the shelter made it possible for her to have her own little home here has made her much more comfortable with the devastation we’re going through.”

It is not known when the residents will be able to return to their homes. But until then, the Red Cross is committed to providing shelter for all in need.

See more photos of our response and shelter operation here.

“The people who are here are awesome,” said shelter manager Sue Wisdom. “They’re a great group of people.  They’re very caring and appreciative of everything the Red Cross is doing for them.”

While partners often help with meals, most of the food provided to residents is supplied by the Red Cross. Combined with the cost of training volunteer shelter workers, the cots and blankets supplied to shelter residents, transportation, storage and logistics costs, the expenses add up.  That’s why donations to the Red Cross are so important.  A $50 donation can provide a full day of food and shelter for one person, including three meals, a cot, two blankets, and a comfort kit as well as the costs to support the Red Cross workers providing this needed service.

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Shelter volunteers Monica Bunner and Sue Wisdom consult with a resident at the shelter at Richmond Heights High School on Sunday, July 22, 2018.

Donations can be made by visiting the Red Cross website, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

The Loganberry Ridge residents had to move out of the high school on Sunday – due to previous commitments there.  They were resettled nearby, at the Christian Assembly Church, where the same five residents stayed again Sunday night. And fortunately for Tracy, she was able to keep her beloved Diamond by her side.

“I’m very grateful to the Red Cross for putting me AND my cat up for as long as we need to be.  The people are very kind.  Very warm and helpful.”