Red Cross disaster workers ring in new year helping others

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

January 4, 2021- While many in Northern Ohio were celebrating the ushering in of 2021, and the Cleveland Browns returning to the NFL playoffs, disaster workers from the American Red Cross were active during the holiday weekend helping neighbors in need.

Despite the cold temperatures and the constant uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Disaster Action Team (DAT) members took time out of their New Year’s celebrations this weekend (December 31-January 3) to virtually and socially distant respond to 16 incidents in Cuyahoga, Erie, Lake, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Medina, Summit and Trumbull counties and assisted 51 individuals. In addition, the Red Cross provided the residents with more than $11,000 in financial assistance for immediate needs such as lodging, clothing and food.

“If it was not for the dedication and selflessness of our DAT members, we would not be able to fulfill the Red Cross’ mission,” said Renee Palagyi, senior disaster program manager. “Despite the pandemic, they continue to put weekends and holiday celebrations on hold to help a neighbor in need. The Red Cross of Northern Ohio is constantly grateful for our DAT members and everything they do.”

To date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 1,410 adults, 807 children and has provided more than $455,000 in immediate financial assistance.

Additional volunteers are needed to train for disaster responses, specifically to respond to home fires locally. People in good health and who are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training can visit www.redcross.org/volunteertoday, or can call 1-800-RED CROSS.

The number one priority of the 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.

If you are unable to volunteer 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.

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.

Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

Thanksgiving weekend disasters drive dozens from their homes

Red Cross workers kept busy during the holiday weekend

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

November 30, 2020- In between second helpings and Thanksgiving leftovers, disaster workers from the Northern Ohio Region were active this holiday weekend assisting residents following several local disasters.

During the long holiday weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio provided comfort and support, both virtually and socially distant, to 70 individuals who experienced a home fire, and provided more than $14,000 in financial assistance to aid those affected with immediate needs, such as food, lodging and clothing.

In addition to the weekend disasters, the Red Cross continued to assist 80 residents, and provided shelter at two hotels for more than 60 of the residents, following an apartment fire last Monday at the Oblate Residences apartment complex in west Toledo

Red Cross disaster workers helping to provide meals to residents affected by the Oblate Residences fire

The residents were unable to be home for Thanksgiving due to the fire damaging the apartment building’s electrical system, and it could be several days before repairs are completed.

Partners like Mobile Meals of Toledo helped the Red Cross provide meals to the displaced residents.

Hotel rooms are being used, instead of more traditional congregate shelter space, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  In addition, Red Cross workers are wearing face coverings and sanitizing their hands frequently, as well as adhering to social distancing guidelines.

For the fiscal year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 1,157 adults, 643 children and has provided more than $369,000 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 following a disaster, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

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.

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.

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.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

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.

 

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: May 22-25, 2020

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

May 26, 2020- While many across Northern Ohio were remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defending our country and took time to get out of their homes to enjoy the summer-like temperatures, the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio was responding to local disasters to assist residents in need.

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During Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25, Disaster Action Team members were assisting residents experiencing one of the worst days of their lives. To comply with social distancing guidelines, the Red Cross responded virtually to assist 65 individuals in 9 counties, Ashland, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lucas, Stark, Summit and Trumbull, and provided more than $10,200 in immediate financial assistance.

“It is so gratifying to know our Disaster Action Team volunteers are ready, willing and able to respond to disasters like home fires, even on weekends and holidays,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio.  “And they have adjusted to the new protocol for responding virtually, so that they are safe and the residents they assist are kept safe.”

To date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has responded to 1,039 local disasters, assisted 4,553 individuals and has provided $881,325 in immediate financial assistance.

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Even during this historic, challenging time, the Red Cross continues to respond in times of crisis, thanks to the extraordinarily dedication and compassion of Red Cross volunteers.

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Wherever you are, there’s a role you can play right now with the Red Cross. Visit https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html to find an opportunity near you.

 

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: May 15-17, 2020

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

May 18, 2020-  With the sun shining and the temperatures allowing for shorts to be worn, many in Northern Ohio were taking advantage of the warmer weather and enjoying the outdoors to get outside of their homes. However for some, they were experiencing one of the worst days of their lives due to a local disaster, such as a home fire.

While other Northern Ohioans were basking in the sun, American Red Cross disaster responders were assisting residents in need.

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During the weekend of May 15-17, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted more than 80 individuals in 11 responses and and provided more than $9,300 in immediate financial assistance.

All of the weekend disaster responses were done virtually to comply with social distancing measures.

This year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has responded to 1,021 incidents, assisted 2,917 adults and 1,551 children, as well as provided $862,520.

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One of the responses was an apartment fire at a 36-unit building in Dundee, Michigan in Monroe County on Saturday. This was the second large response for the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio in as many days.

“I’m proud of our disaster team. I’m always proud of them; but I’m especially proud during these uncertain times. Kudos to our staff and volunteers for continuing impeccable service delivery every day,” said Rachel Hepner-Zawodny, executive director.

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The Red Cross is looking for individuals to join the Red Cross to continue to respond to disasters in local communities. We also have a wide variety of important volunteer-from-home opportunities available. Find your opportunity to make a positive impact today by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: May 8-10, 2020

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

May 11, 2020- Over the weekend, Northern Ohio residents were finding new and creative ways to show their love and appreciation to the mothers they know, while adhering to social distancing to ensure everyone’s safety from COVID-19.

Home Fire Save Story New Orleans, Louisiana 2019

While many were celebrating mothers, unfortunately some were experiencing the worst days of their lives due to a local disaster and the Northern Ohio Region Disaster Action Team was there to provide support and assistance because emergencies don’t take breaks.

During the weekend of May 8-10, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 34 individuals and provided $8,995 in immediate financial assistance.

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To date, the Northern Ohio Region has responded to 996 emergencies, assisted more than 4,300 individuals and have provided $838,790 in immediate financial assistance.

Safety for Red Cross Disaster Action Team members and the residents we assist is our number one priority. While our workers can no longer hug people due to social distancing, it does not mean the renowned comfort the Red Cross is known for has to stop.

DAT home fire responses Atlanta, Georgia video screenshots 2019

The Red Cross has come up with new ways to deliver the much-needed assistance to those who are experiencing the worst day of their lives:

  • We have screening questions that we ask residents before we respond, to protect our volunteers and those we assist.
  • We can conduct interviews over the phone, to ensure that we have a timely response in order to meet their needs and get them assistance in the form of shelter, food, clothing, disaster health services or disaster mental health services.
  • We have the capability to conduct video interviews, so the resident sees the smile, and the helping demeanor of our volunteers.
  • We have developed ways to deliver cards loaded with financial assistance to a location of the resident’s choosing, always with the safety and health of our volunteer and those in need of assistance at the forefront.
  • We also have volunteer caseworkers who will work with residents on the phone to connect them with community partners.

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The Red Cross is looking for individuals to join the disaster action team to continue to respond to disasters in local communities. We also have a wide variety of important volunteer-from-home opportunities available. Find your opportunity to make a positive impact today by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.