By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio
August 10, 2020- This summer has been unlike any other. We have canceled vacation plans, avoided the pools due to safety concerns and we are even wearing masks and keeping our distance when visiting family and friends. However, one thing that has not changed, despite the coronavirus, is that emergencies still occur and the American Red Cross will be there to assist residents in need.
On Sunday, August 9, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio responded to a condo fire in Westlake that affected 15 residents. While the response was similar to past responses, it was also quite different.
The residents affected by the fire received immediate financial assistance, a cornerstone of Red Cross disaster response. Those displaced by the Courtyard Condominium fire received a total of nearly $2,800 for a hotel room, food, and other immediate needs.
There were no hugs or handshakes, but the comfort the Red Cross is known for was there. Following CDC and Red Cross guidelines, Northern Ohio Disaster Action Team members wore masks, washed hands frequently, and kept their distance as much as possible.
Resident Kim Lane, upon receiving financial assistance to help her find a safe place to stay, said “It’s all very helpful. This will help with tonight (Sunday) and tomorrow. It takes a load off. I’m very grateful.”
Jennifer Easton, who also received assistance with her husband Matthew said, “I wasn’t aware the Red Cross did this (aiding people affected by home fires.) I know they go to floods and hurricanes, but this is a revelation.”
Here is a video showing how the Red Cross maintained social distance during the response:
In addition to the Westlake response, over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 24 residents and provided $5,760 in immediate financial assistance.
Since July 1, the Red Cross has assisted 307 adults, 220 children and has provided more than $111,000 in immediate financial assistance.
The Red Cross is in need of healthy individuals who want to assist their local communities and respond to disasters like the Westlake fire. For more information and to see high-demand volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.
To see more photos from the Westlake socially distant response, visit our Flickr page.