Shelter Closes, But Casework Continues

Red Cross Workers Continue to Assist Dozens of Residents Forced to Flee from Fire

A shelter operated by the Red Cross for residents of the Studio City Apartments in Cuyahoga Falls closed today, after Red Cross caseworkers were able to ensure that all residents in need of shelter had suitable alternative housing.

Since Friday, April 14th, the Red Cross has been providing safe shelter, warm meals and comfort care daily for up to six residents who otherwise would have had no other housing alternatives.

“We are extremely grateful to the Cuyahoga Falls City Schools and the Riverfront YMCA for providing the space for us to operate a shelter for these residents,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer in Northeast Ohio.  “And we are especially grateful to the dedicated volunteers, many of whom gave up family time over the Easter holiday weekend, to provide the services that were needed following last week’s fire.”

Shelter Residents from Cuyahoga Falls play basketball with Red Cross Volunteers on Easter Sunday.  Photo credit: Zackery McAvoy/American Red Cross

Although the shelter has closed, Red Cross assistance will continue for the foreseeable future, as nearly 80 people who were forced to flee their homes on Thursday, April 13 are getting help from caseworkers, who are meeting with residents one-on-one to create recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate help from other agencies.  Most of the work is being done by volunteers, who have received specialized training to help people following a disaster.

The Red Cross has a need for additional volunteers to help when the next disaster occurs.  Volunteer opportunities include not only casework and shelter help, but also response immediately following disasters, when people often experience their darkest hours.  Those interested in becoming trained Red Cross volunteers can visit redcross.org/neo, or call 216-431-3328 to begin the application process.

shelter

 Red Cross shelter workers created this display to express their appreciation for the use of  Gordon Dewitt Elementary School in Cuyahoga Falls as a shelter over Easter weekend.

Meeting the challenges of Northeast Ohio Weather – May edition

Even before the storm clouds rolled over the radar screen, the hub at the Red Cross in Cleveland was readying its response to the coming storm.

On Monday, while the wind and rain howled throughout the region, members of our disaster response team began to initiate the first stages of the plan. Red Cross workers began the work of setting up a shelter for the residents of North Ridgeville, who had to be evacuated by boats due to the rising flood waters.

Summit and Portage County Board Member, Leonard Foster, loads a clean-up kit at the chapter.

Summit and Portage County Board Member, Leonard Foster, loads a clean-up kit at the chapter.

As the sun rose on Tuesday volunteers and staff were loading up the Red Cross vehicles to begin the process of observing, collecting, assessing, processing and recording information on each affected areas. The information obtained in this assessment helps the Red Cross determine how to respond to a disaster and what supplies will be required.

Our process starts with an area assessment and then moves to looking at individual homes to see what specific damage has been wrought by the storm – checking water levels in the basement or living space of a home and seeing if it is still inhabitable.

In the case of one Stow area family, where a basement wall had collapsed allowing mud and debris to slide into the home, we were able to help start the process of repairing the wall so that they will be able to stay in their home.

The Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) loaded with bleach and buckets donated by Home Depot, May 2014

The Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) loaded with bleach and buckets donated by Home Depot, May 2014

In other areas of Summit, Medina and Lorain Counties, we provided residents with clean-up kits containing disinfectant, a mop, a bucket and information about how to begin cleaning up the mess the storm and water had left in their homes. In some areas, we also passed out bleach, a donation from Home Depot.

If you are still looking for information on how to clean your basement, check out this link to our Repairing your Flooded Home booklet.

Back in North Ridgeville, we loaded up our Emergency Response Vehicle and set out through the streets, providing food to the residents who were there making their own assessments of the damage to their properties.

We cannot say enough to praise the many volunteers who left their own flooded basements to help other members in their community and in neighboring counties. If you are interested in joining their ranks, you can get started as a volunteer by signing up through our website.

If you would like to financially contribute to the clean-up effort, please visit www.redcross.org/donate or contact your local chapter.