Picking Up Pieces after Midwest Tornado Outbreak

The American Red Cross continues to help people across the Midwest after the weekend’s devastating tornadoes.

In Oklahoma alone, the Red Cross estimates that more than 600 homes were affected by this weekend’s tornadoes, including 87 homes that were destroyed and 49 sustaining major damage. Another area hit hard is Thurman, Iowa, where FEMA reports 75 percent of the town sustained damage.

Red Cross disaster teams are operating shelters, providing meals and distributing relief supplies throughout the affected communities. The Red Cross is also moving additional relief supplies into the tornado-stricken areas, including comfort kits, tarps, coolers, rakes and other cleanup supplies.


Many of the Red Cross responders are volunteers. It was a busy weekend in Iowa as they helped in communities hit by the tornadoes, and also responded to large fires and other severe weather. The weekend began with volunteers helping people affected by a large apartment building fire in Des Moines. Tornadoes slammed into the Thurman and Creston areas Saturday. By Sunday morning, volunteers were on the scene supporting firefighters responding to a multiple business fire in Titonka.

After the tornadoes struck in Thurman and Creston, volunteers opened two shelters, activated three mobile feeding trucks, and began damage assessment. Red Cross volunteers served more than 1,650 meals and snacks Sunday and provided emotional support for clients.

Red Cross volunteers also responded to severe weather damage in Sioux City, Des Moines, Knoxville, Council Bluffs and Keokuk County. Most of the cases reported were wind and tree damage to homes. In Titonka, volunteers served 250 meals to firefighters battling a multi-business fire. 

“There were a significant number of disaster-related incidents this weekend which affected many people’s lives here in Iowa,” said Leslie Schaffer, Red Cross spokesperson. “Our volunteers have really worked tirelessly to make sure people had a safe place to stay, food to eat and help getting their lives back on track. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the storms and fires this weekend, not only here but across the country.”


The Red Cross reminds people who live in the tornado-damaged areas that they should stay out of damaged buildings. Other safety steps include:

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes when examining homes for damage.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • Use battery-­powered flashlights when examining buildings—do NOT use candles.
  • If someone notices a gas smell or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly. They should also call the gas company or fire department.
  • Keep animals under control.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.


People can help those affected by disasters like these tornadoes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Consider making a donation today by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Contributions enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Red Cross Urges People to Volunteer

If you like helping people, the Red Cross is the place for you.

This National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin is celebrating its dedicated volunteers and partners. These volunteers power the American Red Cross, making it possible for the organization to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

The Red Cross is also encouraging people who have been thinking about volunteering to take the plunge. People wanting to make a difference should contact your local American Red Cross to learn about getting involved.

Volunteers are central to the work of the Red Cross in the Northeast corner of the state of WI and reaching into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and in communities across the country, on average, the Red Cross has 15 volunteers for every one employee. These volunteers are people in action—whether providing comfort to a family whose home has been washed away in a flood or getting an emergency message to a member of the military whose father is critically ill.

 American Red Cross volunteers…

  • Respond to disasters and reconnect families separated by disasters or conflict.
  • Support blood drives across the country.
  • Help veterans, members of the military and their families in theU.S.and overseas.
  • Teach first aid, CPR, swimming and other lifesaving skills.

And do so much more!

Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To volunteer, contact Jody Weyers, Regional Director of Volunteers at 920-227-4287 or weyersj@arclakeland.org

Presidential Proclamation — National Volunteer Week, 2012



President Obama Signs Landmark National Service Legislation

Our Nation has been profoundly shaped by ordinary Americans who have volunteered their time and energy to overcome extraordinary challenges. From the American Revolution and the Seneca Falls Convention to the everyday acts of compassion and purpose that move millions to make change in their communities, our Nation has always been at its best when individuals have come together to realize a common vision. As we continue to pursue progress, service and social innovation will play an essential role in achieving our highest ambitions — from a world-class education for every child to an economy built to last. During National Volunteer Week, we pay tribute to all who give of themselves to keep America strong, and we renew the spirit of service that has enriched our country for generations.

That spirit lives on today in countless acts of service around our country. When one of the deadliest tornados in our Nation’s history touched down in Joplin, Missouri, in May 2011, thousands of volunteers stepped forward to serve their fellow citizens. They turned a university into a hospital. They repurposed doors for stretchers. They rushed food to those in need and filled trucks with donations. To date, they have committed more than half a million hours to bringing support and shelter to a community during a time of profound hardship and heartache. In Joplin and across America, we see the transformative power of service — to unite, to build, to heal.

My Administration remains steadfast in our commitment to empower more Americans with tools to shape their communities. During my first 100 days in office, I was proud to sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a landmark national service law that laid out a strategy to link service with innovation, established the groundbreaking Social Innovation Fund, and charted the expansion of AmeriCorps. Last month, we launched FEMA Corps, a new service corps that will enhance our national capacity for disaster response and prepare its members for careers in emergency management. Through United We Serve and national service days, we continue to connect individuals young and old to new opportunities to reinvent their world through service — from fighting hunger and expanding access to healthy, affordable food to mentoring young people and fostering literacy. In all of these efforts, we are reminded how volunteer work can expand opportunity not only for those in need, but also for those who give. Service can teach valuable skills that pave the way to long-term employment and stay with volunteers throughout their careers and lives.

Service is a lifelong pursuit that strengthens the civic and economic fabric of our Nation. With every hour and every act, our lives are made richer, our communities are drawn closer, and our country is forged stronger by the dedication and generous spirit of volunteers. I encourage every American to stand up and play their part — to put their shoulder up against the wheel and help change history’s course. To get started on a project near you, visit www.Serve.gov.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 15 through April 21, 2012, as National Volunteer Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week by volunteering in service projects across our country and pledging to make service a part of their daily lives.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Who Doesn’t like to Eat Out! Now you have a Good Excuse!

On Thursday, May 17, 2012, restaurants throughout Eastern Wisconsin will donate a portion of the day’s sales, and collect customer’s financial donations to benefit American Red Cross services as part of the Dine for Disaster event. By simply eating out at participating restaurants, individuals will be making a gift to support Red Cross disaster relief and prevention.

Dine for Disaster supports local disaster relief and community disaster prevention programs.

To view a list of particpating restaurants click HERE.

Proud sponsor of Dine for Disaster:

April 12 marks the 100th anniversary of Clara Barton’s death!

April 12 marks the 100th anniversary of Clara Barton’s death and the 151st anniversary of the American Civil War. Before she became the “angel of the battlefield,” Clara Barton was a teacher and an advocate for public education.  After her experiences helping the sick and wounded during the Civil War, Clara combined her teaching skills with her passion for humanitarianism and became the advocate and champion that we celebrate her as today.

While many of her contributions as the founder of the American Red Cross are well known, not so well known is the lasting impact of her work following the Civil War to locate missing soldiers, collaborate with representatives from the newly formed international Red Cross in Europe, and to speak out publicly and advocate through government channels with three US presidents and administrations to adopt the first Geneva Convention.

Students in classrooms around the country learn about Clara Barton yet these significant dates provide opportunities to highlight the significance of her contributions in the early years when the Geneva Conventions, the Red Cross and modern international humanitarian law (IHL) were just beginning to develop — examples of the importance of humanitarian law that are as relevant today as there were so many years ago.

A series of upcoming events and resources are available to support educational efforts or lessons about Clara Barton’s legacy and contributions to the Red Cross:

The C-SPAN3 American History Channel’s American Artifacts will feature a program on Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office on April 15th at 8:00am, 7:00pm and 10:00pm, EST.  (Check local listings for exact times for Part 1 and Part 2.) A preview of the show is available on YouTube:

The Clara Barton National Historic Site will host a series of events from Miss Barton’s life, work and legacy: www.nps.gov/clba.

Angel of the Battlefield: Clara Barton 150 years ago at the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg: Clara Barton’s response during this historic battle 150 years ago this year (September 17, 1862) is featured in a dramatization for students and teachers in a lesson on “Humanitarian Acts: What Can Bystanders Do?” in the American Red Cross free online educational resources for teachers and students: The American Civil War: A Humanitarian Perspective, inspired by the Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) curriculum.  These lessons can help educators connect American history to IHL and principles, connecting lessons of the past with issues of the present.

Here are some additional resources for your students.

Additional resources:

Book: Angel of the Battlefield by Ann Hood

Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross

Clara Barton National Historic Site (photo gallery also included)

Antietam National Battlefield: Clara Barton at Antietam

Andersonville National Historic Site: Monument to Clara Barton

Clara Barton Chronology: 1861-1869

Clara Barton Chronology: 1870-1912

Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office (GSA)

National Museum of Civil War Medicine: Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office

The Red Cross of the Geneva Convention: What It Is, By Clara Barton, 1878,

“What Would Clara Barton Wear?”

Clara Barton American Civil War Images

Kewaunee Preparedness Exercise for Point Beach Nuclear Plant

By Judy Gregory, American Red Cross, Regional Manager Disaster Planning

Monday, April 9, twenty members of our Disaster Response Team participated in an evaluated drill with Kewaunee County Emergency Management on response efforts if a disaster would occur at the Point Beach Nuclear Plant.

Emergency Management set up a mock reception center and shelter in the Luxemburg-Casco Middle School.  The evaluators, from FEMA, judged us on our ability to set up a facility that would register all the people who are evacuated from a contaminated area, operate a full functioning shelter and help reunite families.

We set up a mock shelter for the residents to go to. At the shelter we had Health Services, Mental Health Counselors, food, client caseworkers all available to meet the needs.  A Shelter would be maintained for as long as residents would be out of their homes. The FEMA evaluators spoke with people in charge of each area as well as the Shelter Manager, Logistic Chief and Operations Site Manager.

We will receive the outcome of this evaluated drill in a few months.

Thank you to all the volunteers for your participation and support to help make the Red Cross and our community prepared.

If you would like to learn more information on how you can be prepared click HERE.

To view pictures of the drill click HERE to visit the Kewaunee County Emergency Management Facebook page.

We are Proud to have the Support of First National Bank

Thank you to First National Bank for being a Hero for the American Red Cross  and supporting local disaster relief and preparedness.

(l-r) Kris Smith, Marketing, First National Bank, Vicki P. Jenks, Board Member, American Red Cross.