Local Red Cross Volunteers Head to Florida Ahead of Isaac

By WBAY, By Bao Vang –  click HERE for video of story.
As Tropical Storm Isaac barrels toward Florida, the Red Cross is getting ready to open dozens of shelters across the Sunshine State.

Friday morning, trained disaster workers Betsy LeClair and Joel O’Connell from Two Rivers left from Austin Straubel Airport in Brown County to head to Tampa. They were checked in before the sun rose.

“My partner and I are flying to Tampa to prepare for the impending Hurricane that may or may not hit Florida,” O’Connell said.

They’re among 600 Red Cross volunteers across the country who have taken emergency response training classes to prepare to provide disaster relief.

“When Katrina hit, it was an eye opener for everybody,” said O’Connell. “It’s better to be well-prepared and not have to use your facilities than it is to try and scrape things together at the height of the storms.”

O’Connell and LeClair believe in Tampa they’ll be working to provide shelter and food to people evacuated from their homes.

“We’re quite a ways from the eye of the storm. We’ll be in an outlying area, because the people who are in danger will have been moved to the shelters,” O’Connell said.

Strangers helping strangers during disasters is what the Red Cross is all about, says volunteer director Jody Weyers.

“Volunteers for the American Red Cross are the heart of the organization. We are a volunteer-led organization. Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to provide the programs or services that we do in the community,” Weyers said.

Two other volunteers from Fond du Lac also headed down to Florida to provide relief during the storm.

The Red Cross says it has 22 emergency response vehicles already in Florida and 28 more are headed to the state in preparation for the storm. They have dozens more on stand-by.

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti Friday. It’s expected to hit Cuba by the weekend and become a hurricane by Monday as it makes landfall.

Red Cross Ready To Help As Isaac Heads Toward Florida

WASHINGTON, Thursday, August 23, 2012 — Tropical Storm Isaac could make landfall in Florida in the next few days and the American Red Cross is getting ready to respond if needed.

The Red Cross is preparing to open dozens of shelters across Florida, and moving hundreds of trained disaster workers into the state. There are 22 Red Cross emergency response vehicles already in Florida and 28 more are moving into the state in advance of the storm with an additional 78 on stand-by if needed. The Red Cross is mobilizing five truckloads of disaster supplies to send to Florida and Red Cross disaster warehouses in Georgia and Mississippi are ready to ship emergency supplies if necessary.

 “As Isaac travels northward, we’re getting ready to help people in Florida,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “We urge folks who may be in the path of this storm to get prepared too – to check their emergency supplies, finalize their hurricane plans, and listen closely to local officials for updates on the storm.”

RED CROSS HURRICANE APP One step people should take now is to download the free Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices which puts real time information on hurricane safety at someone’s fingertips. The app features information on Red Cross shelters and a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. The one-touch “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media outlets to tell family and friends they are okay. People across the country planning to travel to areas that could get hit with the storm can use the app to receive weather alerts. The Hurricane App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

GET READY Before the storm, people should prepare by taking the following steps:

  • Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If someone does not have hurricane shutters, they should close and board up their windows and doors with plywood.
  • Fill their vehicle’s gas tank.
  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, like outdoor furniture.
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.

More information on what to do before, during and after a storm is available on the Red Cross web site.

 MEANWHILE IN HAITI, Red Cross workers from all over the world are closely coordinating preparedness efforts and plans to respond as Isaac approaches Hispaniola. Logistical support and cholera contingency plans have been activated for the north and northeast regions of Haiti, including positioning of relief and cholera prevention supplies. The Red Cross is supporting and equipping 55 community readiness committees in camps in Port au Prince with additional first aid supplies, having worked with these committees on an ongoing basis to identify evacuation routes and alternate safe spaces. The Haitian government is in charge of evacuation shelters in Haiti. The Red Cross works with the community to help them get ready for disasters and will respond to any needs Isaac creates.

HOW TO HELP If anyone would like to help, they can make a donation by visiting http://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 their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC20013.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Fond du Lac Military Appreciation Cruise Adventures

By Debbie Krueger, Public Relations Volunteer, Service to Armed Forces

Captain Larry Balttner and his 29 foot sailboat named “Into the Wind”

Monday, August 13th my son Steven and I attended the Military Appreciation Cruise was supported by the Fond du Lac Yacht Club, the Fond du Lac Sailing Club and the American Red Cross.

There was 63 veterans and several active duty and reservists in attendance on 6 sailboats and 9 power boats. Mr. Earl Jewett, who was the coordinator of this event, is also a member of the Yacht and Sailing Clubs. They plan to make this cruise a regular event to be held every August. It has been in existence for three years now. Mr. Jewett went on to explain the purpose behind the Yacht and Sailing Clubs offering this was to show their appreciation to the military by sharing their passion for boating and sailing.

We had the pleasure of joining Captain Larry Balttner on his 29 foot sailboat named “Into the Wind” for a 1 hour sail on Lake Winnebago. He has been sailing for 15 years and this was his 1st time being involved in this particular event.

We had a very pleasant evening and look forward to many more!

We Are Looking for Volunteers to join our Service to the Armed Forces Program

At times of emergency, Service to Armed Forces (SAF) provides the communication link between armed forces personnel wherever they may be and their family members at home. Our Red Cross worldwide emergency communications network operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. By calling 877-272-7337 we can help you or your family with emergency messages regarding the death or serious illness of a family member, the birth of a child, or other family emergencies.

The American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces can provide a service member and their commander with fast, reliable information to help make decisions regarding emergency leave. The SAF collaborates with the military aid societies in providing financial assistance when an urgent personal or family crisis arises.

Hundreds of Red Cross chapters brief departing service members and their families regarding available support services and explain how the Red Cross may assist them during the deployment. Both active duty and community based military can count on the Red Cross to provide emergency communications that link them with their families back home, access to financial assistance, counseling and assistance to veterans.

Learn more about our SAF services by watching this short video.

Want to to join this team? Contact John Kost, Services to Armed Forces Director
at 920-733-4481 or john.kost@redcross.org

Volunteers Needed: Green Bay Packers Training Camp Blood & Bone Marrow Drive

We Are All ONE

This post comes to us from Barbara Behling, who was deployed shortly after we heard about the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin

Dilys Rana, Barbara Behling and Naomi Berkowitz at Oak Creek vigil. The Red Cross had several emotional health professionals assisting people with the grief throughout the week.

Oak Creek, WI…On Sunday, August 5th a single gunman entered the Sikh Temple and fired rounds killing six at a sacred place of worship. The perpetrator was stopped by brave first responders. We may never know the single answer of ‘why’ this senseless tragedy happened at a sacred place of worship but what we have learned about the Sikh community is their resolve, and peacefulness is stronger than any bullet.

Almost immediately, the call for American Red Cross assistance was received. We activated numerous trained personnel to work with the affected communities. For the first responders, including SWAT, FBI, ATF along with local teams of police, sheriffs, and local officials have worked around the clock. It’s been several days since the shooting and we are still providing snacks, food, water, coffee and a moment of respite as crews continue to work tirelessly. They will solve the criminal investigation questions.

We also worked hand-in-hand with the families themselves. They were shaken, distraught, seeking answers and given the opportunity to enjoy silence amongst hundreds. Our mental health professionals were at their side, lending an ear, a shoulder, a tissue. I listened and watched Harans Farwaha share how his ‘young bride’ of 57 years was within 10 to 15-feet of the shooter. “Had he turned right instead of left, she would be gone today,” he explains as water wells-up in his eyes, tears stream from hers.

The Sikh Community believes in peace. Not once have we heard about hate or revenge. They simply want to heal and practice peace.

Tuesday evening was the Oak Creek community’s annual and pre-scheduled National Night Out. Thousands of families attended, gathered emergency planning information, shared their streets and interacted with the Sikh community. A candle-light vigil was also incorporated into the evening. The Sikh community shared their immigration story which brought them to the United States in 1912. With a strong work ethic, they built the railroads, farmed the land, became business owners and lived the American dream. They explained their three golden rules to remember their source, earn a living honestly and share with those less fortunate.

The U.S. Ambassador to India shared how this is ‘humanities night-out’ and “we all share a sense of deep sorrow and grief. India is a land of expressive diversity & nothing expresses it like the

Sikh community. Courage, commitment, giving, valor and patriotism are words we are defined by. This is a time of renewal and faith to the human family.”

Throughout the evening, you felt the international, language and custom barriers breaking down. This was not a day to reclaim what we lost but a day to reflect and embrace. It was stated, “we are not separated – just on different continents looking for each other.”

We are fortunate to have trained staff and volunteers from all cultures, background and education. This evening included a multi-lingual Red Cross volunteer who speaks English, Hindi and Punjabi – the traditional Sikh language. Although many in the community spoke English, several of the elders did not. It was through use of words, the traditional greeting (folding of hands with a slight bow) and the use of their fear none – frighten none mantra we all explored cultural differences together. Their doors will be open and ours are open as well.

Through this tragedy, we have all learned through actions, words and compassion. We, at the American Red Cross, are simply honored to help during this difficult time.

To view additional photos please click HERE.

We are on What’s Happening Waupaca August Episode

Do you live in the Waupaca area? Check your cable access TV station Win-TV this month. Look for Jody Weyers, Volunteer Director and Nick Cluppert, Disaster Services, talking about the Red Cross, volunteer needs and what it is like to be a disaster volunteer.

Or you can Watch now!  Red Cross is the second segment.

Thank you Win-TV for sharing our message on the need for disaster volunteers and our support in the community.