This is what a socially distant response looks like

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.

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Resident Kim Lane speaks with Red Cross Disaster Action Team member Jan Cooper

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.

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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.

Updated hurricane forecast highlights the need for volunteers to help people who have to flee their homes

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

August 7, 2020- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an “extremely active” hurricane season with the potential to be one of the busiest on record, according to the agency’s annual August update.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Carol Holm of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

In order to prepare, the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is seeking volunteers able to train as shelter service or disaster health supervisors and associates. They must also be willing to deploy.

Already, 12 Northern Ohio volunteers responded to Hurricane Isaias, most of whom are physically deployed.

According to this press release, the NOAA now expects 19-25 named storms for the season, which ends November 30. 7-11 are anticipated to become hurricanes, including 3-6 major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater.

This year’s storms are also expected to be stronger and longer-lived than average. While the outlook does not forecast landfall, we must be ready.

Whether you are a current Red Cross volunteer or interested in becoming one, please consider applying for the following positions. If you have any family members or friends who may be interested, please speak to them as well.

Shelter Services

As always, the Red Cross is committed to providing safe shelter following a disaster and is taking steps to keep shelter residents, volunteers, and staff safe during the pandemic, including using non-traditional shelters where possible. No matter the type of shelter used, volunteers are needed to help staff reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection, and other vital tasks to help those impacted by a disaster. Associate and supervisory level opportunities are available.

Disaster Health Services

The Red Cross needs licensed medical professionals for a number of volunteer roles. These include:

  • Helping assess people’s health and providing hands-on care in alignment with professional licensure (RN and LPN/LVN).
  • Assisting with daily living activities, personal assistance services, providing health education, and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment, or consumable medical supplies.
  • And possibly performing daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents.

Both supervisory and associate positions are available. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO, or PA with an active, current, and unencumbered license, please consider volunteering. Ancillary roles are available locally for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses, and medical students. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Juanita Casanova of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, on the outskirts of Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

If you are able to help or would like more information, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday. The Red Cross covers travel and training expenses.

Red Cross adapts sheltering strategies to maintain safety as hurricane season begins, pandemic continues

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

July 31, 2020- Providing shelter and care after a major disaster—such as a hurricane or tropical storm—is especially challenging during a pandemic.

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July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Marc Lazerow of the American Red Cross welcomes the Cantu family to their cots at a Red Cross shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Hanna in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Family units are grouped closer together while other cots are spaced further apart for social distance from others. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

As the 2020 hurricane season begins, Mike Arthur, the Red Cross’ regional mass care and logistics manager for Northern Ohio, updated area volunteers and staff on sheltering methods during the pandemic. Here is an overview of initiatives:

The Red Cross’ mission is to assist everyone, regardless of background or illness status. Several steps are being taken to ensure safety and provide assistance for all in need following a disaster. These include following CDC guidance to identify those with COVID-19 symptoms and adhering to public health guidelines for quarantines. In addition, each shelter will have an Isolation Care Area. Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or show signs of illness will be separated from the general shelter population.

When possible, the Red Cross will employ non-congregate sheltering. Red Cross representatives will work with partners and communities to find non-congregate options, such as hotels, dormitories and campgrounds.

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July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas The Cantu’s family get their temperatures checked as part of a COVID-19 screening precaution before entering a Red Cross emergency shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Hanna in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

When a congregate shelter is needed, ensure safety. In some cases, a congregate shelter may be the only option. In this event, the Red Cross will work to reduce the risk of infection, including:

  • Ensuring resources are available for Isolation Care Areas.
  • Requiring everyone to be screened before entering a shelter.
  • Increasing health and security staff.
  • Following social distancing practices inside the shelter.
  • Maintaining a safe environment through increased cleaning and disinfection of facilities.
  • Following safe practices when providing food and supplies and handling waste removal.
  • Providing virtual support services where possible.
  • Moving to smaller shelters and finding non-congregate housing as soon as possible.

While Northern Ohio is not prone to hurricanes, the region does experience disasters that require mass care and sheltering, such as apartment building and condominium fires. And wherever hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and other national disasters occur, many local Red Cross volunteers and staff deploy to affected areas.

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July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Diana Buckley of the American Red Cross checks on Jose and his wife Maria Elvia, who needs hospice care, at a Red Cross emergency shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Hanna in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Additionally, every day in Northern Ohio, Red Cross staff and volunteers help people recover after a home fire. The organization is reducing COVID-19 risk in these cases as well, particularly by using virtual support as much as possible.

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July 28, 2020. La Feria, Texas Siblings, from left to right, Yakelin, 10 years old, Reyes Jr., 11 years old and Edwin, 16 years old, play with their smart phones while resting in their cots at a Red Cross emergency shelter for families displaced by Hurricane Hanna, in La Feria, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

With these and other adaptations, the Red Cross is doing all it can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure while effectively continuing its mission. Help is needed to sustain this important work. If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, information is available here. If you are able to provide financial support, please visit this page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

“Red Cross Roadie” hits the road again

IT worker heads to USVI ahead of strengthening storm

 

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

July 29, 2020- David Schindler is heading to his 35th assignment as an information technology (IT) volunteer for the American Red Cross, as tropical storm Isaias chugs toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

He is being deployed as the disaster services technology chief, responsible for setting up workstations, ensuring connectivity, and troubleshooting tech issues for Red Cross disaster workers who could be assigned to respond to the storm.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said the unassuming IT expert from his home in Lake County, as he prepared Tuesday night for his trip to St. Thomas, USVI.

How long he stays is anybody’s guess.

“I spent 21 months in Austin, Texas for the Hurricane Katrina response,” David said, recalling one of his first Red Cross assignments.  It was also his longest, but lengthy assignments are routine for him.

“I spent six months in Puerto Rico for (responding to) Hurricane Maria,” where he helped establish satellite services for the people of the devastated island.

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David Schindler on a Zoom virtual news conference on July 28 prior to deploying to the U.S. Virgin Islands

“David is an outstanding volunteer, and an outstanding individual,” said Emily Probst, the workforce engagement manager for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio.  “So many people depend on him, and he always answers the call.”

“I call myself a Red Cross roadie,” David said, recalling the Jackson Browne song about the workers who are the first to arrive to set up the stage and the band’s equipment, and are the last to leave after packing everything away for the next show on the tour.

David spent a career as an information technology systems manager before retiring 16 years ago and using his experience to assist us whenever and wherever people need Red Cross help.

What’s changed since then?  “Laptops have gotten lighter.  Cellphones are different. We had flip phones when I started.  Now we use smartphones.”

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Juanita Casanova of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, on the outskirts of Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020.  Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

David rates the technology we use as state-of-the art.

As a disaster services technology chief, David said he has worked with up to 80 others on disaster responses, and at times, he has been the sole technology worker.

“Every operation has unique challenges,” David said.  He’s not too concerned about traveling for this assignment, despite COVID-19.  The Red Cross is following CDC guidelines and has instituted several procedures to ensure the health and safety of its workforce and the people we are assisting.

“I’m a little concerned about wearing a face covering all day, but it’s a petty thing when you think about the job we’re doing.”

If you’re healthy and you would like to help others who may be affected by severe weather this hurricane/wildfire season by working in a shelter, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

 

 

Early active hurricane season highlights need for disaster support

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

July 27, 2020- Earlier this year, weather experts predicted that the 2020 hurricane season would be one of the most intense seasons in recent memory. So far, the early hurricane season has not made any efforts to debunk those predictions, with an unprecedented 8 named storms already developing, with 4 months remaining in the season.

Currently there are two different storms affecting different regions of the United States, which the American Red Cross is actively monitoring to assist residents in need.

Hurricane Hanna

Hanna

  • Record-earliest eighth named storm in the Atlantic Basin and the first hurricane of the season.
  • Downgraded to a tropical storm overnight after making landfall twice Saturday evening along southern Texas’s Gulf coast as a Category 1 hurricane.
  • Heavy rainfall has already produced numerous reports of flash flooding across south Texas, and tropical storm conditions are expected to continue Sunday afternoon.

Red Cross Response:

In response to Hanna, the Red Cross has pre-positioned thousands of cots, blankets and other shelter supplies across the Gulf Coast.

The Red Cross has also opened 3 Red Cross shelters in Cameron, Nueces and Kleberg Counties and is supporting the state with hotel stays as needed. The Red Cross is also serving hundreds of meals and snacks with partners so far.

Hurricane Douglas

Douglas

  • First Eastern Pacific major hurricane of the season as it became a Category 4 storm on July 24. As of Sunday morning, Douglas was downgraded to a Category 1 storm.
  • Although some slow weakening is anticipated over the next two days, Douglas is expected to maintain its hurricane intensity as it passes dangerously close to the main Hawaiian Islands on Sunday and into Monday. If it does make landfall, it would be only the third hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii.
  • With the close passage of the storm, damaging winds, flooding rainfall, dangerously high surf and mudslides could threaten the islands. Impacts from Douglas will first impact the Big Island before moving to Maui and other islands into the beginning of this week.

Red Cross Response:

The Red Cross has pre-positioned relief supplies to support residents in need. The Red Cross is also currently supporting 5 government-run evacuation centers and several more are expected to open today.

In addition to Hanna and Douglas, the Red Cross is closely monitoring Invest 92L in the Atlantic. It is expected to move westward during the next several days, and it could become a tropical depression or storm this week as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles.

While a busy hurricane season, along with a busy wildfire season, is enough cause for concern, the current environment surrounding COVID-19 is making responding to disasters more difficult.

As COVID-19 numbers increase, it is making it challenging for the Red Cross to deploy trained disaster volunteers to other parts of the country should an emergency occur. To help respond to these disasters, the Red Cross needs volunteers from the Northern Ohio Region


, who are willing to travel when necessary, to lend a helping hand.

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Shelter Help Needed

There is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. Because of COVID-19, the Red Cross is placing those needing a safe place to stay in emergency hotel lodging when possible. If hotel stays aren’t possible, then the Red Cross will open traditional shelters. To help keep people safe, we have put in place additional precautions and developed special training for our workforce.

We need volunteers to help staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks to help those we serve. We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available.

Health Services Support Needed 

If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with an active, current and unencumbered license, the Red Cross needs your support. Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people’s health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Roles are also available for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses and medical students. We need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters. This could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.

If you are interested in helping our community should a disaster occur, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: July 10-12, 2020

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio 

July 13, 2020- The coronavirus is a topic that is on the top of everyone’s mind in Northern Ohio. We are all concerned about the new increase in cases, which is why over the weekend the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio lent a helping hand to those helping keep our communities safer.

On Friday, July 10, the Red Cross of Northwest Ohio helped support the COVID-19 testing site on Put-in-Bay by providing snacks, beverages and lunch for the essential workers who were administering the tests to the workers on South Bass Island.

In addition to providing support to the COVID-19 testing site over the weekend, the Red Cross responded to local disasters, such as home fires and storm damage, in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Lucas, Putnam, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne counties.

In addition to providing comfort and support to 46 residents during their time of need, the Disaster Action Team provided the residents $11,980 in immediate financial assistance.

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To date in the new fiscal year, which began on July 1, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 117 adults, 84 children and has provided $44,900 in immediate financial assistance.

Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. If you are interested in helping your local community, we have a wide variety volunteer opportunities, including important volunteer-from-home opportunities available. There truly is an opportunity for everyone. Find your opportunity today by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.

Furthermore, have you or someone you know recovered from COVID-19 and you would like to help others recover? The Red Cross is calling on individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate convalescent plasma to aid in the treatment of others suffering from the virus.

To donate, visit RedCrossBlood.org and fill out the donor eligibility form.

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: July 3-5, 2020

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

July 6, 2020- The Fourth of July is a significant time in Northern Ohio. Despite the coronavirus changing or putting a hold on many traditions, it is still an opportunity to relax and create some memories.

However for some in Northern Ohio, the tranquility of the holiday weekend was disrupted by a disaster.

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Luckily, the dedicated members of the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio Disaster Action Team were ready to help residents in need at a moment’s notice, to provide support and comfort, despite their own plans.

Over the holiday weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio responded to several local disasters, including five multi-family home fires in Akron, Cleveland and Toledo, a water main break in South Euclid and a fireworks explosion in Toledo.

During the active weekend, the DAT team assisted 109 individuals in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Lucas, Mahoning, Seneca, Stark, Summit and Trumbull counties, and provided more than $22,800 in immediate financial assistance.

DAT home fire responses Atlanta, Georgia video screenshots 2019

As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals following a disaster, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

Volunteers, such as members of the DAT team, are the face of the Red Cross. Without their tremendous and selfless dedication, we would not be able to serve the 31 counties and 5.3 million residents of Northern Ohio.

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Be one of the many volunteers that make up 90 percent of the Red Cross’ workforce and help others in need in your local community by becoming a Red Cross volunteer today. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more and to apply.

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: June 12-14, 2020

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 15, 2020- For many of us, the weekend is a time of tranquility. It gives us a chance to stay at home, hang out with family and friends and decompress after a stressful week.

However, for some in Northern Ohio, that tranquility was disturbed due to a local disaster, such as a home fire.

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Luckily, an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team member was there to help comfort the resident, even if it was done virtually, and helped guide them on getting back on their feet.

The weekend of June 12-14 was a particularly busy weekend for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio. In fact, the weekend was so busy that some of our DAT workers had to respond to one disaster call, immediately following another.

This weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 70 individuals in Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Erie, Hancock, Holmes, Lorain, Lucas, Monroe (MI), Summit and Wood counties. The Red Cross also provided $14,890 in immediate financial assistance to the residents affected.

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The year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 3,185 adults, 1,703 children and provided more than $945,000 in financial assistance.

Your donations make a big impact in helping the Red Cross assist residents following a local disaster. The Red Cross uses your donations to help provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

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To help the Red Cross help residents of Northern Ohio following a disaster, visit redcross.org/donate. Any amount donated truly helps and goes a long way in making a difference.

 

Red Cross assists residents following summer storm

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 12, 2020- As many of us know, here in Northern Ohio we are prone to intense summer storms. This was the case on Wednesday night as the region was forced to withstand heavy rain and high wind speeds due to the extremely high temperatures we were experiencing.

For many in Northern Ohio, myself included, our power went out due to those harsh conditions outside. Whenever the power goes out, it can be scary and even stressful as we worry about things like the food in our refrigerator. However, now imagine how scary a power outage can be if you need that power to keep the medical equipment that you rely on running.

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That was the case for some residents during the storm. Luckily, the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio was there to provide support and assistance.

“A power outage is very significant to the person experiencing it. Sometimes it can constitute what Red Cross considers a true humanitarian need, but only in certain circumstances. Our responders are trained to ask certain questions to determine if we can assist financially. These answers may lead us to having a member of disaster health services evaluate a resident,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager, disaster cycle services.

Renee added, “A resident who has medical equipment powered by electricity may or may not qualify depending on the severity of their condition and the frequency of equipment use. Some individuals are considered medically fragile and even despite not needing medical equipment, may not be able to withstand extremes in temperature. Ultimately, our disaster health services volunteers, with their extensive nursing backgrounds, are the best at determining who meets the criteria in these situations.”

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Following the Wednesday night storm, the Red Cross provided storm assistance to 25 individuals, many of which were dependent on medical equipment, and provided over $4,000 in immediate financial assistance.

In addition, the Red Cross assisted 46 residents who suffered from a home fire and provided an additional $9,355 in financial assistance.

For the year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 3,139 adults, 1,677 children and have provided $933,715 in immediate financial assistance.

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As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

To donate to assist the Red Cross in continuing to help residents in need throughout the region, please visit redcross.org/donate. Any amount donated truly helps.

 

 

 

Northern Ohio disaster response team active at the start of June

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

June 8, 2020- As the calendar changed to June, the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio was very active responding to local disasters, such as homes fires, both virtually and complying with social distancing guidance.

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During the week of June 1- June 7, 2020, the Northern Ohio Region Disaster Action team responded to disasters in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Stark Summit, Toledo and Wyandot counties, assisting 47 adults and 32 children.

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The Red Cross of Northern Ohio also provided over $16,000 in immediate financial assistance to those experiencing one of the worst days of their lives.

This year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has responded to 1,092 incidents, assisted 4,753 individuals and has provided $920,770 in immediate financial assistance.

As remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal threaten the central part of the United States with torrential downpours and flooding, the Red Cross stands ready to support those affected by the storm. In addition, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio currently has six disaster workers deployed to assist with the flooding in Michigan following the two recent dam breaches.

Just as disasters do not discriminate in terms of whose lives they destroy; the Red Cross does not discriminate in terms of whose lives we help rebuild. The Red Cross does not turn away people who need assistance after a disaster. We are committed to helping everyone in need.

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As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals experiencing their darkest hours, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.