Helping those in need after a disaster is challenging but rewarding

By Mike Arthur, Regional Mass Care & Logistics Manager, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

I’m grateful to live in northern Ohio, one of the safest areas of the country from a weather-related disaster standpoint. We don’t have to worry about a hurricane coming and wiping our homes away. We are unlikely to walk out our front doors and have trouble breathing due to smoke from a nearby wildfire.

I have never worried about the fate of my family and myself, where we would live and work after a disaster destroyed my home and place of work. I have never had to make a decision about which of my hard-earned belongings I need to take with me when I evacuate. I have never had my community devastated. Every year thousands of families have their lives changed drastically when their homes and communities are affected by disasters large and small.

Mike Arthur, during the Red Cross response to hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas in 2017

I’m also grateful that I get the opportunity to help people in need. As a Regional Mass Care & Logistics Manager, I get to put the skills and talents learned over the course of my life to good use leading and supporting the American Red Cross workforce in meeting the needs of our clients locally and nationally.

I get to deploy for a few weeks each year making an immediate difference in someone’s life. Deployments to large disasters are tough but incredibly rewarding. The hours can be long. The food is not always five star. I sometimes sleep on a cot in a staff shelter with my fellow workers. It can be stressful. Compassion fatigue is a risk.

Residents wait to receive clean up supplies from the Red Cross after hurricane Harvey in 2017.

I look forward to each deployment and go as often as I can. I feel like I make a difference. I have made incredible friends across the country. I have great stories to tell. I get to bring hope to those in need. I help provide a safe place to sleep and food in bellies, and sometimes, most importantly I can provide a warm hug, bright smile and a sympathetic ear. My life is fuller because of my deployment experiences. I hope you will take to opportunity to join me out in the field this year and experience the magic of helping.

Help those in need when they need it most by becoming a volunteer with the Red Cross. To find a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you, visit

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Honoring our commitment during Military Appreciation Month

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

June 20, 2018. Washington, DC. Development SAF Stock Photography Project 2018. Photo by Roy Cox/American Red Cross

In 1776, our founders signed the Declaration of Independence, but without a military to back up our claims, the British Crown could have quickly regained control of our country. Fast forward to 2022, and one needs to look no further than Ukraine to see why our country needs a well- trained, well-equipped, always-prepared military.

Our military guarantees our entire way of life, so we need to do all we can to be there for our fighting men and women, along with their families. That was the original aim of the Red Cross founder, Clara Barton when she began caring for the wounded during the Civil War.

Service to the Armed Forces (SAF)

Since 1881, the American Red Cross has deployed alongside our military in every U.S. conflict since the Spanish-American War. The Red Cross also provides in-person support on more than 100 military installations and deployment sites worldwide, leveraging the services of 14,700 SAF volunteers around the globe.

“Members of the military, veterans, and their family members all make sacrifices,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Program Director, Service to the Armed Forces and International Services.  “From emotional wellness workshops to emergency communications, our staff of volunteers works hard to help provide valuable service to the armed forces.

Red Cross services for our military and their families include:

Before deployment:

 “Get to know us before you need us” sessions inform the military family about the variety of Red Cross services available to them.

During deployment:

 Delivering verified emergency messages to active-duty personnel worldwide
 Facilitating financial assistance and resources through Military Aid Societies
 Military hospital services – providing comfort and help with therapy
 Coping strategies for families at home
 Mind-body stress reduction workshops

After deployment:

 Assistance at local VA hospitals and facilities
 Hero Care Resource Directory
 Information and referral services to community programs
 Military and Veteran Caregiver Network
 Reconnection workshops
 Assistance with veteran’s assistance appeals

Since 9/11, Red Cross and its volunteers have served more than 1 million military families, providing 24/7 emergency care and communications. Would you like to support military and veteran families in your community? Don’t take your freedoms for granted. Sign up to become a Red Cross volunteer or donate on our Support Military Families webpage.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

A Report on the Flooding in Louisiana

By: Pam Williams, volunteer


Since the flooding in the south began three weeks ago, nearly 2,000 Red Crossers working alongside partners have provided 4,700 overnight stays in 60 shelters; served 290,000 meals and snacks; distributed more than 119,000 relief items including comfort kits and cleaning supplies; and provided nearly 9,000 health and mental health consultation.

I deployed to Louisiana as part of the External Relations team. As a Government Operations Lead, I helped coordinate necessary services and activities with local, state, federal and Tribal government partners and worked with our Community Partner Services volunteers who identify non-government partners, private agencies and/or organizations and members of the affected communities to assist those affected by the disaster.

This was my 22nd deployment and several of them have been in response to floods. My friends think I’m off to see the country, and I suppose they’re right, but I’m seeing it in pain. However, while each disaster and each response is different I have found one constant – I am seeing people at their best. Whether it is Red Cross volunteers who leave their lives and families to respond, community groups who step up to help their neighbors or those affected by the disaster who are amazingly resilient there is a spirit that moves people forward.

Since returning to Northeast Ohio, here are some of the things I have learned about the response in Louisiana:

  • This is the largest sheltering operation for the Red Cross in Louisiana since Hurricane Gustav and Ike in 2008, and Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
  • As many as 12,000 people have been impacted by the flooding across the state with hundreds of residences either destroyed or receiving major damage.
  • The Red Cross estimates that we will spend between $8.5 million and $11.5 million helping people affected by spring floods and storms across Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee – and we haven’t raised anywhere near the millions of dollars we’re spending to provide the relief needed.
  • Since the flooding began, the Red Cross and our partners have provided more than 3,000 overnight stays in 30 shelters; served 216,000 meals and snacks; distributed 53,000 relief items including comfort kits and cleaning supplies; and provided 3,800 health and mental health consultations in Louisiana alone. Over three weeks into this response operation we are still sheltering affected residents and pockets of previously unidentified people are popping up everyday. There are over 430 areas that continue to be marked as inaccessible so our Disaster Assessment teams can’t yet get in to see how badly the homes have been affected.

The Red Cross has also deployed hundreds of volunteers (like me) to staff these disasters–and we are appealing for additional Red Cross volunteers now. The time and talent of every volunteer makes a real difference in people’s lives. Go to today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

Louisiana Floods 2016

Sunday March 13, 2016. Rayville, Louisiana. Bobby Ray Griffin and Mildred Means took on more than a foot of water in their Rayville, Louisiana, home. They had already spent much of the day removing flood-damaged furniture from their home when Red Cross volunteers came through their neighborhood with snacks and water. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Louisiana Floods 2016

March 14, 2016. Monroe, Louisiana. At 9-months-old, Jakenzie Bradford is one of the youngest staying at this Monroe, Louisiana, Red Cross shelter. She and her family where displaced when floodwaters entered their home nearly a week ago. The Red Cross provides a safe place where children and families can feel comfortable and secure as they begin the road to recovery after disasters like floods. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross