Southern Baptists Join Red Cross To Provide Hot Meals For West Virginia Flood Survivors

By Carl Manning; American Red Cross Volunteer

Tommy Story is busy stirring the large vat of fragrant meat in the outdoor kitchen, the steam rising and wafting through his white beard.

The Gaston, Ky., resident is with the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Team working with American Red Cross volunteers to cook and serve hot meals for those recovering from the West Virginia flash floods.

“For me it’s a true joy to be able to help out those in need. It’s a true labor of love,” said Tommy, part of the group operating the field kitchen outside the First Baptist Church of Fairlea, one of three kitchens the church group is operating.

As Tommy stirs, other volunteers are busy opening numerous cans of vegetables to start fixing the side dishes. It’s like watching a carefully timed dance, with volunteers quickly pivoting to avoid bumping each other with hot food.

The Southern Baptists have been doing this for about 60 years and for much of that time they’ve partnered with the Red Cross to provide needed nourishment for those recovering from a variety of disasters.

Karen Smith, of Shepherdsville, Ky., who oversees the Fairlea kitchen, says it’s really a time-tested partnership for both organizations.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the Red Cross and the Red Cross couldn’t do what it does without us,” she said. “We’re all working for the same end and that is to help the people who are hurting.”

The Red Cross purchases the food; the Southern Baptists cook it and put it in insulated containers which are loaded into a waiting fleet of Red Cross emergency response vehicles, or ERVs, for delivery where needed.

Among those rushing around is Joby Barrow, of La Center, Ky., making sure the right meals get to the right ERVs – including four trucks from Northeast Ohio.

“We do this because we’re supposed to help our neighbors and that’s more than the people next door,” she said. “We’re all in this to do what we can. We all do what we can do best.”

She watches as the forklift driver eases the pallet of food containers to the back of an ERV and again checks to make sure all is as should be.

With the food loaded, the ERV drives off and she waves before hurrying back to get ready for the next load.

To assist those affected by the West Virginia floods, please visit, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text WVFLOODS to 90999.


Tommy Story of Guston, Ky., is one of the volunteers with the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief helping run a field kitchen to cook meals for the American Red Cross to take to those impacted by the flash flooding in West Virginia. (Photo by David Hendrix/American Red Cross)


Joby Barrow of LaCenter, Ky, is a Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief volunteer who checks the food containers as they are loaded onto an American Red Cross emergency response vehicle to be taken to those recovering from the West Virginia floods. (Photo by David Hendrix/American Red Cross)


Two Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief volunteers put plastic wrap around insulated food containers so they won’t spill from the pallet while being transported by forklift to a waiting American Red Cross emergency response vehicle for delivery to those recovering from the West Virginia flooding. (Photo by David Hendrix/American Red Cross)

Disaster Workers Kept Busy at Home and in West Virginia

Volunteers Respond to Home Fires, Flood Recovery During Independence Day Weekend

Nearly 70 Northeast Ohio residents were chased from their homes by fire during the 4th of July holiday weekend, as Red Cross volunteers responded to meet their immediate needs. Financial assistance totaling more than $13,600 was offered to 45 adults and 22 children, to be used for lodging, food, clothing, and other immediate needs.

“The Red Cross volunteers who responded to these families are Holiday Heroes,” said Jeremy Bayer, Disaster Program Manager for the Greater Cleveland chapter.  “They provided the initial guiding hand for these families during their darkest hour.”

In West Virginia, about 700 Red Cross volunteers, including several from Northeast Ohio worked through the weekend to help the thousands of residents affected by recent flooding.  There have been nearly 2,000 overnight stays in shelters operated or supported by Red Cross volunteers.  More than 13,000 meals and snacks have been served, 7,500 clean-up kits have been distributed, and tens of thousands of bulk items given to residents, many of whom have lost everything in the flooding.

The road to recovery for West Virginians affected by the flooding will be long.  Many face daunting challenges.  The Red Cross will be with them to help those staying in shelters transition to longer term housing.  And we need your help.

Log onto, or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make a donation to disaster relief. Or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.  Your donation will help people recover from disasters big and small: big, like the West Virginia flooding, and small, like the individual home fires that affected so many families in Northeast Ohio this weekend.

Weathering Independence Day 2016 in West Virginia

CEO Mike Parks Credits Residents for Resiliency

More rain is in the forecast for West Virginia on the 4th of July, as residents there recover from historic flooding that hit the state in late June. The National Weather Service has posted a flash flood watch  through late Monday night for parts of West Virginia and eastern Ohio.

Mike Parks, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, is one of hundreds of Red Cross workers and volunteers who deployed to West Virginia, in response to the needs of the residents affected by the flooding.


Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region

“The response of the residents of this great state to the devastation caused by the flooding is heartwarming,” Mike said.  “So many of them have so little, but so many of them give so much to so many.  Their generosity to each other, despite their own hardships is not only heartwarming, but also inspiring.”

Red Cross workers have been providing shelter, food, water, cleaning supplies and comfort kits to residents affected by the disaster, and will continue to help them as they plan to move forward with their lives.

Photo Credit: Mary Williams, American Red Cross

“The residents affected by the flooding have hope, hope that they can recover, and that gives them true independence, as we celebrate our nation’s freedom,” Mike added.

You can help the people of West Virginia, by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief.  Your donation will help people who suffer from disasters big and small.  Go to or call 1-800-RED CROSS to donate.  Or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Red Cross Cup Raises Funds For Disaster Relief

Money to Help People Who Suffer from Disasters Big and Small

Cancelling a golf tournament seems trivial, when considering the reason.

Flooding.  Homes destroyed.  Lives lost.

That’s why the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia has been cancelled.

“We are heartbroken by the devastation that the residents of West Virginia are experiencing at this time and the reports of lives lost due to the terrible flooding,” said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a statement. “Canceling The Greenbrier Classic is certainly the most prudent course of action as our foremost concern is the well-being of those who are having to live through this tragic situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

The American Red Cross responded to the flood zone immediately. Several volunteers from Northeast Ohio are among the hundreds of Red Cross workers assisting residents who lost their homes. The Red Cross is operating or supporting shelters, providing food and water, replacing prescription medications and eyeglasses, and offering mental health support, to help people cope during their darkest hours.

We are fortunate that no disaster of that magnitude has affected Northeast Ohio, and that we were able to host the Red Cross Cup last month.

One hundred and twelve golfers gathered to play on Monday, June 13th at the world renowned Canterbury Golf Club. The outing was a benefit for the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region.

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Canterbury Golf Club is one of only three U.S. course to have hosted the five rotating Men’s Major Golf Championships, and has been the home for the Red Cross Cup for six years now. The 2016 Red Cross Cup was made possible through the generous support of Presenting Sponsor, Home Savings.

“Home Savings’ investment in the Red Cross as the presenting sponsor of this event will have a significant impact on the lives of others in Northeast Ohio,” according to John McCann, member of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter.

Additional sponsors of the 2016 Red Cross Cup included the Breakfast Sponsor, the Cleveland Zoological Society and the Caddy Sponsor, Donley’s.

Mike Parks, CEO of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region reflected on the impact the Red Cross and its volunteers had this season, saying “This has been a very busy spring season for the American Red Cross, with unrelenting flooding in Texas. Nearly 9,000 Red Cross workers—about 90 percent of them volunteers—including some from Northeast Ohio sprang into action to offer shelter, food and comfort in hard-hit communities.”

He continued, bringing the message back to Northeast Ohio and the impact the Red Cross has here, on a wide range of disasters, such as the three house fires that occur, on average, every day in Northeast Ohio.

“During their darkest hour, the victims of these fires become our clients, and are offered immediate financial assistance, mental health services when needed, and a way forward on their road to recovery.”

At the event proceeded, a silent auction included items such as a Chef’s’ Table for 12 at Crop Bistro in Ohio City and a Cavaliers benchwarmer package, which includes access to the Cavs bench during pregame warmups, Court Club access, and an autographed Kevin Love jersey.

The 2016 Red Cross Cup raised more than $100,000, which will be used to further aid and support the American Red Cross Mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

The winners of the event were as follows:

1st Place Winners:

Competitive – Bruce Leff, Leff Electric Co.

Scramble –  Dominion

2nd Place Winners:

Competitive – Justin Roth, Zenith Systems

Scramble – Fox Sports Ohio

3rd Place Winners:

Competitive – Jim Tweardy, Leff Electric Co.

Scramble – Sherwin-Williams

Meantime, in West Virginia, entire families have lost their homes and everything they own. The Red Cross needs your help to continue its work in West Virginia and everywhere disaster strikes. Your support will help people affected by disasters big and small. You can donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief by contacting Scott Thompson, Regional Development Officer at 216-431-3064, or email You can also text WVFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

American Red Cross volunteer Anmol Nigam contributed to this article

More Local Red Cross Workers Respond to West Virginia Flooding

Resources Include Personnel, Equipment

Nearly 500 American Red Cross volunteers have responded to the call for help in West Virginia, where heavy rain last week caused widespread flooding.  Seven volunteers are from Northeast Ohio.  In addition, Regional CEO Mike Parks is there to offer his assistance.

“It’s extremely rewarding to see American Red Cross volunteers and staff from across the country descend on the devastated communities of West Virginia,” said Parks. “It makes me proud to be part of this humanitarian organization.”

23 fatalities are being attributed to the flooding.  Preliminary reports indicate upwards of 2,000 homes could have been damaged or destroyed.  Thousands of people are still without power and gas service. Many areas are still inaccessible due to flood damage, and the number of affected homes is likely to change.

Red Cross workers, including those from Northeast Ohio, continue to support shelter operations. Workers are also providing meals, relief supplies and other assistance to those affected.

By the numbers:

-More than 1,900 overnight stays in emergency shelters

-More than 40,000 meals and snacks distributed

-Over 61,000 relief items like cleaning supplies and comfort kits distributed

Red Cross disaster mental health workers are helping people cope with the loss of their homes. Health workers are helping to replace needed items like prescription medications and eyeglasses. The Red Cross is working with state and local officials and with partners like the Southern Baptist Convention and AmeriCorps to help ensure people get the help they need.

In addition to the Red Cross personnel deployed, the Northeast Ohio Region is also contributing 3 emergency response vehicles and 2 passenger vans to the response and recovery effort in West Virginia.

This is a large relief response and the Red Cross needs the public’s support. Entire families have lost their homes and everything they own. We need your support now to help people affected by disasters big and small.

  • People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

 Financial donations are the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most.


Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information and shelter locations available on your mobile device.

  • The Emergency App features emergency weather alerts to help keep the user safe, and provides information about what to do in case of floods as well as the locations of open shelters.
  • Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to




Response to Disasters Continues

Please Support Red Cross Disaster Relief

Hundreds of American Red Cross volunteers continue helping the thousands of people affected by devastating and historic flooding in West Virginia and fast-moving wildfires in California, which collectively have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to seek shelter elsewhere.

Several volunteers who responded to help the people of West Virginia are from Northeast Ohio.  They are supporting shelters, serving meals, distributing relief supplies and providing health services and emotional and mental health support. Red Cross caseworkers will also be meeting with individuals one-on-one, to help them plan their next steps to move out of shelters, and to provide support and guidance. Every day, we continue to monitor the affected areas in these two states, and will deploy more help to the affected areas, as needed – to include volunteers and emergency vehicles. The Red Cross is also coordinating very closely with partners like the Southern Baptist Convention and AmeriCorps to lend a hand, and help to manage and coordinate the many resources needed to support disasters of this scope and scale.

“The lives of thousands of people have been turned upside down by deadly floods and wildfires, and Red Cross volunteers are there to provide comfort and support, while making sure they have a safe place to stay and food to eat,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Our relief efforts are just beginning, and we will be there in the coming days and weeks supporting people affected by these tragic disasters as they begin to recover and rebuild.”

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These are large and complex relief responses and the Red Cross needs the public’s support now. If you would like to help the Red Cross support people affected by disasters like flooding, wildfires and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by contacting Northeast Ohio Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson at 216-431-3064, or email Or visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

You can download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding, wildfires and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

Local Red Cross Volunteers Help Neighbors in West Virginia

Thousands of Residents Affected by Devastating Floods

Six volunteers from Northeast Ohio are among the Red Cross workers assisting West Virginians affected by summer flooding.

The floods were caused by heavy rain that fell on Thursday, June 23.  More than two dozen fatalities have been attributed to the flooding, and thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed.

“I am always in awe of the power of something so simple as water,” said Mary Williams, a Red Cross Communications Officer from the Northeast Ohio Region, who arrived in West Virginia on Saturday, along with a growing number of volunteers.

“The number of volunteers responding to this disaster is amazing,” said Charlotte Rerko, Chief Operating Officer of the Northeast Ohio Region.  “It’s people helping people at it’s best.”

Red Cross volunteers are providing support and comfort to people affected by the flooding, by operating or supporting 13 shelters for people who lost their homes or who were forced to evacuate.  Some 1,200 people had a safe, dry place to stay Sunday night.

An Emergency Response Vehicle based at the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties chapter in Akron was also dispatched to the area, to bring food and other supplies to the flood-affected residents of West Virginia.

Because it’s such a traumatic time for so many families unexpectedly forced from their homes,  Red Cross disaster mental health workers have also been sent to the area to give the residents guidance on how to prepare for the return to their homes.  And Red Cross health workers are helping to replace needed items like prescription medications and eyeglasses.

More help is on the way, with more volunteers, emergency vehicles and other supplies on the way to West Virginia.  As of Monday, there were 150 Red Cross personnel assisting with the recovery effort.

We need your help.  Entire families have lost their homes and everything they own.  Your support will help people affected by disasters big and small.  You can donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting  or calling 1-800 RED CROSS.  Or you can make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

You can prepare for floods and stay safe when they occur by following a few steps, including:

  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and heed evacuation orders when given. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App,  to have safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations available on your mobile device.