Northern Ohio disaster workers continue to deploy to several relief efforts

9 working virtually; 18 have physically deployed

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

September 14, 2020- With Hurricane Sally approaching the Gulf Coast and expected to make landfall on Tuesday, the American Red Cross continues to respond to the California and Oregon wildfires, as well as the Hurricane Laura relief efforts in Louisiana and Texas.

Currently from Northern Ohio, one disaster worker has deployed to California, while nine have deployed to help with the Oregon wildfires.

In addition, 17 workers are continuing to assist people affected by Hurricane Laura, including three responding in Texas and 14 in Louisiana.

Northern Ohio Region leadership members Mike Parks, CEO and Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer, are among the disaster workers assigned to assist with the disaster responses. Mike has deployed to the Hurricane Laura response, while Tim was assigned to respond to the wildfire in Oregon. Both are working virtually currently.

To date, as part of the Hurricane Laura and the west coast wildfires disaster relief efforts, the Red Cross has provided emergency lodging to more than 29,600 residents, and with the help of partners, the Red Cross has also served more than 769,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 174,000 relief items.

September 13, 2020. Central Point, Oregon. Patty Albin of the American Red Cross checks on Travis Wagner as he rests at the Jackson County Expo and Fairgrounds shelter after fleeing the wildfires in Central Point, OR on Sunday, September 13, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Additional volunteers are needed to train for disaster responses, specifically to respond to home fires locally and to staff shelters during national disaster responses. Licensed health care professionals are also needed to help people in disaster shelters.

If you are in good health and you are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training and can deploy, you are invited to attend one of the upcoming virtual volunteer information session on Friday, September 18 or Saturday, September 19. Both sessions will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. For more information and to register, email Melanie Collins at melanie.collins4@redcross.org or call 330-204-6615.

August 31, 2020. Sulphur, Louisiana Pamela Harris of the American Red Cross looks out on damage caused by Hurricane Laura, in Sulphur, LA on Monday, August 31, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

If you are unable to deploy but you would like to support the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts, donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation

Red Cross responds to disasters locally and across the country

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 31, 2020- Disasters do not stop. Regardless of weather, time of year or even a pandemic, disasters do not pause and consider what else is occurring before affecting lives.

While disasters do not stop, neither does the American Red Cross in responding to disasters and assisting residents affected.

As if a pandemic wasn’t a large enough concern, the 2020 disaster season has been very active, with the Red Cross currently responding to the California wildfires and to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Laura.

In the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts in California, Louisiana and Texas, the Red Cross has deployed more than 1,900 trained disasters workers, including 24 from the Northern Ohio Region, to help the more than 25,800 affected residents by providing emergency lodging and along with partner organizations, have provided more than 47,000 meals and snacks.

Homes destroyed by Hurricane Laura in Cameron Parish, LA, one of the hardest hit areas, on Sunday, August 30, 2020.

In Texas and Louisiana, the Red Cross is working with the World Central Kitchen, an organization founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, the Salvation Army and the Southern Baptist Convention to set up kitchens, which are able to serve tens of thousands of meals each day.

Along with deploying across the country, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio remains active back home assisting residents following local disasters, such as home fires.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 38 adults, 12 children and provided more than $10,500 in financial assistance for lodging and other necessities following disasters in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Harrison, Lucas, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties.

To date during Fiscal Year 2021, which began on July 1, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 463 adults, 302 children and has provided $162,995 in immediate financial assistance.

Carol Miller of the American Red Cross speaks with David Suarez after giving him a case of water, in an area that was badly damaged by Hurricane Laura in Westlake, LA

COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission, and we are still providing the same types of support as we always have.

To help keep people safe, we are following guidance from CDC and public health authorities — and have put in place additional precautions. Some of these plans include social distancing protocols, face coverings, health screenings, and opening additional shelters that can support fewer people than normal so that we can ensure social distancing protocols.

Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency operations plans.

The Red Cross is in need of healthy individuals who want to assist their local communities and respond to disasters. For more information and to see high-demand volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Unable to deploy? You can still make a difference in the lives of people impacted by disasters. Visit redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS to make a donation.

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance.

Northern Ohio volunteers deploy across the country to assist residents in need

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 24, 2020- Volunteers from Northern Ohio are preparing for the storms taking aim at the Gulf Coast and have responded to the current wildfires in California and the derecho that slammed the Midwest two weeks ago.

One of the joys of working with this team of volunteers is that several days ago we were strangers and in a short time we have become a team. We have no bosses. Everyone just seems to recognize each other’s strengths and everyone just naturally flows to what they do best to compliment the team. It is a beautiful thing to watch.”- John Lavelle, Northern Ohio volunteer

Three volunteers have deployed to California, 5 are providing relief to residents in Iowa, and 7 have been assigned to help with any tropical storm/hurricane relief efforts required because of Marco and Laura.

John Lavelle, a volunteer who is part of the Red Cross’ Iowa disaster response team, recently provided an update to the Northern Ohio Region about his experience:

“One of the first things you learn on deployment is that flexibility is paramount. Coming to Iowa, the original assignment was for feeding. However, after about two hours, the assignment became what they call a special strike force, where our primary mission was to find out what the residents needed and where to distribute the items.

One of our stops on Saturday (August 22) was a large apartment complex, which gave me tremendous appreciation for individuals who provide food to refugee camps in the hardest hit areas around the world. Trying to maintain organization and provide the items people needed at times overwhelmed us. Experience is by far the best teacher, and following this experience, the team came up with a plan as to what to do if a similar situation happens again.

One image that stands out to me was when a resident wanted a case of water and a large bag of 12 meals, both heavy objects. We told her we would hold one of the items for her until she came back, but she refused and placed the case of water on her head and carried the box of food in her arms. She made it appear as if she was born to do this.

One of the joys of working with this team of volunteers is that several days ago we were strangers and in a short time we have become a team. We have no bosses. Everyone just seems to recognize each other’s strengths and everyone just naturally flows to what they do best to compliment the team. It is a beautiful thing to watch.”

In addition, several volunteers responded to seven home fires in Northern Ohio over the weekend, providing immediate financial assistance to more than 30 children and adults.

August 17, 2020. Veterans Memorial Colosseum Red Cross operated shelter. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Red Cross nurse, Helen Caves of Indiana, talked with shelter client Grace about her health conditions and the state of her home while providing her a safe place to rest. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

Additional volunteers are needed to train for disaster responses, specifically to respond to home fires locally and to  staff shelters during national disaster responses. Licensed health care professionals are also needed to help people in disaster shelters.

People in good health and who are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training and can deploy for up to two weeks can visit www.redcross.org/volunteertoday, or can call 1-800-RED CROSS. The number one priority of the American Red Cross is the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, blood donors and recipients, and the people we serve, and we have implemented several measures, in accordance with CDC guidelines, to protect our workers and those who need our assistance.

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.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

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.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

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.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

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.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

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

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.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

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.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

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.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

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.

 

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster report: March 13-15, 2020

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

March 16, 2020- While residents in Northeast Ohio were taking precautions to remain safe from the coronavirus, members of the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Disaster Action Team were assisting residents facing the worst day of their lives, as disasters do not adhere to social distancing measures.

During the weekend of March 13-15, the DAT team responded to disasters in four of the five chapters of the Northeast Ohio Region, with disasters occurring in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Erie, Lake, Richland, Stark and Trumbull counties.

The Red Cross assisted 32 adults, 29 children and provided $12,460 in immediate financial assistance.

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While we all take extraordinary steps to contain the coronavirus, the Red Cross is asking all healthy individuals to donate blood, to help maintain the nation’s blood supply as blood drives across the country continue to be cancelled.

Over the last few days, we have seen blood drive cancellations grow at an alarming rate. Through March 13, about 1,500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 46,000 fewer blood donations. We expect that number to rise.

We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but want to reassure the public that we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors and staff.

Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee 2019

We are checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy. Hand sanitizers are available for use before entering the drive, as well as throughout the donation process. We are also spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.

Red Cross employees follow strict safety procedures, including wearing gloves and changing them often, wiping down all donor-touched surfaces and equipment and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

A blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer. One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of the coronavirus is to give blood.

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If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Red Cross assists residents in apartment fire as month comes to a close

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

February 4, 2020- As January was coming to a close, some in Northeast Ohio were completing end of the month paperwork at work, while others were preparing for the Super Bowl. However, for Red Cross disaster action team members, it was another day of assisting residents suffering from a disaster and helping them get through the worst days of their lives.

During the evening of January 31, an apartment building on Lake Ave. in Cleveland caught on fire, even requiring one residents to be rescued by ladder. As the Cleveland Fire Department was battling the fire, the American Red Cross assisted residents displaced from the four story building.

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The Red Cross assisted 14 residents from the Lake Ave. apartments and provided $1,750 in immediate financial assistance.

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 in Northeast Ohio experiencing their darkest hours, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

Lake Ave 2

If you are looking more for an opportunity to personally touch the lives of an individual suffering a local disaster and experiencing the worst day of their lives, you can become a disaster disaster services volunteer.

Volunteers are the face of the Red Cross. Without their tremendous and selfless dedication, we would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio.

Lake Ave 3

Visit redcross.org/volunteer  to submit a volunteer application.

To learn more about the role of a disaster action team member, attend one of our upcoming volunteer information sessions in Akron, Cleveland and East Liverpool.

Photo credit: WOIO Cleveland 19

 

Fires force families to flee their homes

Disaster workers respond to nearly a dozen home fires in Northeast Ohio over the weekend

Nearly three-dozen people, including nine children were left homeless – at least temporarily – following weekend fires in Cleveland, Lorain, Eastlake, Mansfield and Cadiz, Ohio.  Disaster action team members responded, tending to their immediate needs by providing financial assistance, comfort kits that include personal hygiene items, and hope for finding a way forward.

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One of the fires near downtown Cleveland forced eight adults to flee in the middle of the night on Saturday.  Ben Bellucci, disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland, said the tenants and property owners expressed heartfelt appreciation for the help being offered.

fire6“They had no idea we do this,” Ben said. “When I told them we respond to fires like these 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they were shocked.  They could not have been more appreciative.”

Financial assistance totaling more than $6,300 was distributed to the 34 people who found themselves out in the cold.  Additional assistance was also offered, including help replacing prescription medications and eyeglasses, and making connections with other community resources.

Only by the power of our volunteer workforce and the generosity of our donors are we able to provide such assistance.  There is no government funding for the help residents receive – on average, three times every 24 hours in Northeast Ohio.  To make a financial contribution, visit www.redcross.org/donate.  And to volunteer to help your neighbors by responding to home fires and other disasters, apply here.

Photo credit: Ben Bellucci, American Red Cross

Snapshots: Moments from disaster response

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

August 12, 2019- I have been a part of the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief team for 18 months, which has been exceptionally challenging and rewarding. Here are a few of the many moments lingering in my memory:

Tim Poe

Tim Poe

I hand an information packet and financial assistance card to a woman in tears. I see astonishment followed by relief on her face as I explain what it is. She looks out the window, breathes deeply and begins planning her family’s recovery.

An enormous, isolated tree stands in a field. Near the top, a remnant of a house is embedded in twisted limbs. Other pieces of homes and people’s belongings lie scattered across the field as people work to clean up and recover.

Assisting a large number of clients after a major fire, people from the community come in throughout the day, bringing supplies, offering comfort, asking how they can donate, finding ways to help.

In an ER, a woman lifts her oxygen mask, says it’s her birthday, and asks for cake.

Interviewing a client as her grandson plays with a stuffed toy, I ask if she’s a veteran and the grandchild declares he is. “No you’re not, sweetheart,” she says. He answers, “I am too. I don’t even like meat.”

On Christmas Eve, standing on the porch of what remains of a house, helping a family plan their recovery, the mother makes a joke and laughter warms the winter air. I feel the mood lighten as they look to the future.

2019 Euclid fire responseAt a community event with the Emergency Response Vehicle, I let children use the public-address system. Some shyly say, “hi,” others say their names and a few words. One yells, “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! … and ice cream!” Nearly all smile as their voices amplify.

Standing in the rain, clearing the scene of a very large fire, the family’s father grasps my hand, holds on, begins to say something, then simply nods.

Leaving a scene, a three-year-old child runs up and gives me a hug.

Volunteers like me  carry out 90 percent of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. Whether helping displaced families or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, the time and talents of volunteers can make a real difference. Explore the Red Cross’ many volunteer opportunities here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: July 19-21, 2019

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

July 22, 2019- While many Northeast Ohio residents were dodging the nearly 100 degree temperatures and the storms the heat brought through the region,  American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Disaster Action Teams left the comfort of cool homes to assist residents in need.

During the weekend of July 19-21, the Red Cross responded to 10 incidents, assisted 84 individuals and provided more than $11,000 in immediate financial assistance.

One of the responses occurred in the Wooster area in Wayne County. Following flash flooding after heavy rain in Apple Creek and the surrounding areas, the Red Cross opened and helped operated a shelter at Grace Church, which received 8 overnight residents.

 

There was another significant response over the weekend in Trumbull County.  In Kinsman, a road was washed out, isolating residents in 25 homes and prompting a boat rescue. The Red Cross provided financial assistance to the affected residents, including 56 adults and 22 children.

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Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/neo to learn more and to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer.