Red Cross responds to NEO tornado touchdown and other spring storms

Local volunteers assist residents in Shelby, Ohio and elsewhere

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

April 15, 2019 – Spring is usually welcome here in Northeast Ohio, but the tornado strike this week in Richland County is a stark reminder that the season can turn nasty.

“We have a shelter on standby for tonight (Monday) at the Shelby YMCA Community Center, and volunteers in an emergency response vehicle going through damaged areas of the community, offering meals as folks work to recover their belongings,” said Tim O’Toole, American Red Cross regional disaster officer for Northeast Ohio.

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Red Cross volunteer Bill Conley in Shelby, Ohio

“We also have teams there doing damage assessment so we can sit down with people whose homes were damaged or destroyed and help them with immediate and longer-term assistance.”

Meanwhile, Mother Nature has been particularly aggressive elsewhere in the country, with the South strafed by multiple tornado outbreaks and the Midwest hit with “bomb cyclones,” tornadoes and historic flooding.

The Red Cross has mustered hundreds of disaster workers – including men and women from our area – to bring comfort to victims of these severe weather events.

“I had seen pictures of the flooding before I left, but when I got out there I was totally amazed by the damage,” said veteran Red Cross volunteer Rick Whitehead of Willoughby, Ohio, who spent 10 days in Lincoln, Neb. “In some places you could barely see the tops of houses.”

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Red Cross volunteer Rick Whitehead

Rapid melting after a freak snowstorm swelled rivers so fast “some towns were literally islands,” he said. National Guard helicopters airlifted Red Cross shelter personnel, food and water into some Nebraska communities, cut off by high water, and ruined roads and bridges.

For the scope of flooding across Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin, the Red Cross has done relatively little sheltering: 6,300 overnight stays. But it has provided help in one form or another to some 7,760 households: 65,000 meals, more than 1,000 cases of water, and nearly 39,000 cleanup kits and supplies such as diapers, bleach and other items not readily available in stranded communities.

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And it’s not over yet. Kevin Jones of Brunswick, Ohio, who is helping keep Red Cross field computer systems running in Omaha, said another flood crest is working its way down the Missouri River. “Some communities will get hit again,” he predicted.

“Looks like it’s going to be a busy year” for disaster response, the veteran volunteer observed.

Indeed, deadly storms raked Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia several weeks ago, and just days ago, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi got hit. The Red Cross is responding wherever shelter, food, medical and emotional support, and relief supplies are needed.

The Red Cross has tips to keep yourself and your family and loved ones safe at https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/Spring-Brings-Its-Own-Severe-Weather-Get-Ready-Now.html

“We’re just coming into prime tornado season and already we have disaster workers helping one community,” O’Toole said. “But we’re ready. That’s the strength of the Red Cross, having trained responders all over who can help their neighbors or folks across the country they’ve never met, no matter what the emergency.”

To become a trained volunteer to help victims of disasters here in Northeast Ohio or across the country, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.

Another holiday season – another holiday door decorating contest

And more entertaining comments from the judge

By John Bernard,  Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director

(Editor’s note: The winner of the annual Northeast Ohio Region Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) Holiday Door Decorating Contest has been announced by John Bernard, the Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director.  Like last year, we found his comments to be so entertaining that we are including them, along with photos of all 9 doors entered in this year’s competition.)

door 1Emily Probst, Regional Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager
Dept of Misfits.  This is Mike Park’s office door isn’t it? But, I zoom in and see a bunch what I think are disaster personnel.  Tim as Santa Claus. That fits, given his RDO (Regional Disaster Officer) exception rate! There’s Renee as Bumble. Not sure who did this door– but Renee – you do realize they pushed Bumble over a cliff and later removed his teeth a la Old West style?

door 2Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Santa Down the Chimney.  Wonderful use of space – vertical door/chimney– Santa. Kicked it three dimensional with the smoke alarms.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it; smoke alarms down the chimney?

door 3Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager
Birth of Hope.  To quote the late, great Stan Lee, “’Nuff said.”

 

door 4Mike Arthur, Disaster Program Manager, Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter South 
Oh wait, THIS is Mike’s door. Nope, couldn’t be, otherwise it would be white with an orange stripe and a star on it.

 

door 5Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer, AKA Batman
What am I seeing here?  Is this like Halloween costumes tacked up on a door?  Can’t decide if the door is a chimney Santa is scaling up or he’s going Airborne and parachuting with a quick release on his pack before he hits the dirt.  I was going to make Buffalo Bill/Silence of the Lambs reference but thought that might be too dark.  Moving on…..

door 6Jeremy Bayer, Disaster Program Manager, Greater Cleveland Chapter
Ah, the good ole “Wrap the door as a present – wait, it needs more – here, let me hot glue this Christmas stuff up there – perfect” routine.  This just screams “I spend an inordinate amount of time at Hobby Lobby and they call by my nickname at the checkout – ‘Craft-alicious.’”

door 7John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager
A Christmas Story. First off, you’ll shoot your eye out with that thing.  Second, you can expect that ATS (American red Cross Training Services) will release “How to stay safe and healthy during the Holiday Season” talking points two weeks AFTER someone has injured their tongue by sticking it to a frozen light post.

door 8Rick Whitehead, Regional Community Partner and EMA Manager
Aloha.  How very Christmas-y.  The three stockings really bring it home, ya know?  Can you feel the eye-rolling from Cincinnati?

door 9
Tim Reichel, Disaster Program Manager, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter
Wow – two actual elves.  They sure do look seasoned…..I mean, seasonal.  I can see they took a long time to tape up that red table cloth left over from the Regional Training Institute and then add some basic Christmas stuff.

So, that’s the overview.  Now for round 2.

  1. Credit for tying the holiday to the team – build camaraderie! It’s in the TOP 3!
  2. I count four smoke alarms for that one house.  It’s supposed to be 2.5 per house.  You’re not fooling anyone, Gareis!  I’m ratting you out.  TWO POINT FIVE!
  3. As a believer in Hope, this entry took some consideration; it is, after all, the reason for the season.  What I arrived at is this; like the baby born in the manger, this door – because of its message – is set apart and therefore above judgment.
  4. 8.5 x11 worth of printed out Christmas.  Minimal effort – minimal comment.  Better hope this isn’t tied to your merit increase!

Hands down, A Christmas Story wins it! You knew it when you did it.  Fantastic job!  Second place, is the Department of Misfits! Third place – against my better judgment – Santa down the chimney…2.5.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

JB