The Power of Social Engagement

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communication Director  @jweyers2

With smartphones, facebook, twitter and other social engagement platforms it is changing the way we communicate with people.  Working in the communications field for over 12 years at the American Red Cross, I have seen a lot of changes in technology, forms of communications, what works and what is outdated.

Over the last few years, on larger disasters I have seen how our National Headquarters team uses social engagement as a way to communicate with our clients, and as a way for the community impacted to communicate with us.

I have now experienced this power first-hand on the impact social media has in times of a disaster with the recent tornadoes and storms that hit Northeast Wisconsin on the morning of August 7.

Here are some real life examples of how we identified those who needed help and we were able to help:

Tweet from @WendyH0405:  @newredcross I’m in rural Hortonville and am wondering where to go to get ice thanks?

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I sent her my e-mail and she contacted me with her information and I was able to provide her number to our team delivering ice to call her when they were in the area. I am happy to say Wendy sent back an e-mail at 2:00pm that day, saying she was able to get ice and thank you!

Here is another success story.

Idell Johnnston @sfagentidell is a State Farm agent from Shawano, and has helped in the past with her family to canvas the area with fire prevention door hangers. She saw me on the news that night, wanted to help and followed up via facebook.  I made a call to the disaster lead and, yes, we did need some extra hands. Idell and her daughter came down to help give out ice all day at our Appleton Office.

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Social engagement cannot replace your traditional forms of communication. You still have to pick up the phone, meet people in person, and I am a firm believer of the hand written thank you note, but in times of disaster, and with social engagement being instant, this is just another tool to help the Red Cross connect with people and for people to connect with the Red Cross!

Thank you @lisajduff  for your nice message of appreciation!!!

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Action and Compassion Continues for the People of Northeast WI

American Red Cross workers continues to help those impacted by the August 7th tornadoes that hit Northeast Wisconsin. Over the weekend, the Red Cross sent two mobile feeding trucks to the communities of Wrightstown, Freedom, Appleton, Hortonville and New London. These trucks had water, ice, snacks, sandwiches and gloves for our disaster responders to distribute to those in need.  In addition, we had our health services and mental health professionals going door-to-door to offer their services. We also had items including teddy bears and books to help calm and comfort children impacted by the storms.

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Char Martinson shows Mallory, Red Cross worker, the damage an f2 tornado caused to the back yard.

 “It’s unbelievable how responsive and dedicated the American Red Cross is…it’s great!” are the first words that came from Char Martinson, who was helping with clean-up efforts at her daughters home. Not 10 years prior, Char and her husband experienced a tornado in their hometown of Ladysmith, WI. “Yep, you bet Red Cross was there for us then too!”

As of Aug 11, our total response includes:

  • Serving 6,317 meals and snacks to those impacted.
  • Distribution of 8,000 pounds of ice.
  • Three shelters open (Wrightstown, Appleton and New London) for people to receive water, food, ice, take showers, a place to stay, and a place to charge electronics.
  • Two mobile feeding trucks were in impacted communities delivering water, ice, snacks, sandwiches, and gloves.
  • 75 Red Cross workers responding to those in need.

When walking the storm ravaged neighborhoods, it was easy to see neighbors were helping neighbors and the whole community pitching in. “That’s why it’s so rewarding to drive into communities with the Red Cross supplies and a shoulder to lean-on to help people start recovering,” stated Jody Weyers, a Red Cross responder.

If you need help due to storm/tornado damage throughout Northeast Wisconsin, please call 1-800-236-8680 for assistance. Disaster teams are ready to help you with your immediate emergency needs and we are turning our attention to long-term recovery.

To view pictures of our response efforts please click HERE.

The Spirit of People in Wisconsin

Written By: Sara Bruesewitz, American Red Cross Public Affairs 

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“It’s unbelievable how responsive and dedicated the American Red Cross is…it’s great!” are the first words that came from Char Martinson after I told her I was a Red Cross worker. Char’s daughter and son-in-law’s home and yard were severely damaged after 5 tornadoes ripped through New London and surrounding Northern Wisconsin communities on the night of August 6, 2013. Red Cross teams came around with food, water and ice in the days following the storms. Volunteers have been working around the clock since the storms hit providing immediate needs like food and water but also health services and emotional support.

Not 10 years prior, Char and her husband experienced a tornado in their hometown of Ladysmith, WI. “Yep, you bet Red Cross was there for us then too!”, Char said with a big smile on her face. Char and her husband traveled to New London, WI on Wednesday to bring a generator to their daughters house and help with clean up efforts. “If you can’t help your family, who can you help?”, she ended her story with.

The spirit in Northeast, Wisconsin is bright. Neighbors helping neighbors is an overall theme; everyone coming together to move forward following an unexpected disaster.

How the Red Cross is helping!

A house in the Freedom area destroyed by the tornadoes.

A house in the Freedom area destroyed by the tornadoes.

The early morning of August 7, 2013 Northeast Wisconsin was hit with five tornadoes, confirmed by the National Weather Service causing power outages, damage to homes and businesses, and leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Red Cross workers where immediately called to action to respond to those impacted by the tornadoes and storms. Our support, to those impacted, continues as some are just starting to get their power restored.

As of Aug 8, our total response includes:

  • Serving 4,920 meals and snacks to those impacted.
  • Distribution of 7,500 pounds of ice.
  • Three shelters open (Wrightstown, Appleton and New London) for people to receive water, food, ice, a place to stay, and a place to charge electronics.
  •  Two mobile feeding trucks going out into the impacted communities delivering water, ice, snacks, sandwiches, and gloves.
  • 72 Red Cross workers responding to those in need.
Volunteer, Chris Worm, from Fond du Lac, giving out water and sandwiches to those in need.

Volunteer, Chris Worm, from Fond du Lac, giving out water and sandwiches to those in need.

Red Cross will be sending two mobile feeding trucks this afternoon, and over the weekend to the communities of Wrightstown, Freedom, Appleton, Hortonville and New London. These trucks will have water, ice, snacks, sandwiches and gloves to distribute to those in need.

Our shelter in Wrightstown closed as of 9:30am, Thursday, August 8 and our New London shelter closed at 1:00pm today. The Appleton shelter, located at Appleton West HS, 1610 Badger Ave, will be closed at 7:00pm tonight.

Individuals can pick up ice and supplies at the Appleton shelter until 7:00pm today or at our Appleton Office, located at 1302 E. Wisconsin Ave until 4:00pm today.

If you need help due to storm/tornado damage throughout Northeast Wisconsin, please call 1-800-236-8680 for assistance. Disaster teams are ready to help you with your immediate emergency needs.

Want to see pictures of our volunteers in action?  Check out our flickr site:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/newredcross/

If you would like to make a financial gift please go to: http://www.redcross.org, or call 1-800-Red-Cross (1-800-733-2767)

Thanks to Great Partners Red Cross is Prepared

May 29, 2012 to support Wisconsin and Michigan bordering communities relief efforts, American Red Cross Chapters throughout Wisconsin received 11 Briggs & Stratton generators and 13 pressure washers as part of a large donation to support the organization preparedness and response to disasters and emergencies.

Briggs & Stratton donated generator being used to power our Appleton Red Cross office.

Briggs & Stratton donated generator being used to power our Appleton Red Cross office.

Today we are putting that donation to good use. The American Red Cross is not immune from disasters. Our Appleton office, located at 1302 E. Wisconsin Ave, was impacted by the Northeast Storms and lost power early this morning and is currently still without power at 1:00pm today.

Staging area at the Appleton office for our feeding operation.

Staging area at the Appleton office for our feeding operation.

Thanks to the generosity of Briggs & Stratton we are able to power our Appleton office by generator so we are able to use this facility as a central hub in coordinating our disaster efforts across Northeast Wisconsin. This storm is very wide spread including the cities of Manitowoc, De Pere, Green Leaf, Wrightstown, Appleton, New London, Freedom, Hortonville and many other communities. Having a functional central office location is critical in being able to respond to the needs of those impacted.

The Briggs & Stratton gift is not only helping Wisconsin and the Michigan boarder communities be prepared but also across our nation.

The donation by Briggs & Stratton included 847 generators and 483 pressure washers to Red Cross chapters in disaster-prone locations across the United States and Puerto Rico. The generators can supply power at disaster shelters and service centers during relief operations and even power devices within our chapter’s offices. The pressure washers will ensure a high level of cleanliness for washing cots, food containers and other cleaning projects.

You can read the full story of the Briggs & Stratton donation by clicking  HERE .

My Power is Out…..

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer & Communications Director

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Roughly 64,000 people were without power as they woke up this morning in Northeast Wisconsin. I was one of the lucky ones that still had my power. As I got the call this morning at 3:30 am, from Judy Gregory, our emergency services director, I was able to monitor news stories on the internet, make my coffee, and have a quick piece of toast before I ran out the door to head to one of the badly damaged areas, Apple Creek Campgrounds, in Wrightstown.

While I was there surveying the damage of downed trees, and debris strewn about and standing with report, Millaine Wells, WFRV-TV, waiting for our live shot, she asked me, “Just how long is food good for in your refrigerator and freezer during a power outage?” She went on to tell me that where she lived, she did not have power this am, and still did not know if she did at 6:30 am today.

I was slightly embarrassed to say, I did not know the answer, but I did look it up in online once I got back to my office in Green Bay (we did have power) and if I don’t know I am many of those 64,000 people do not know either?

Food Safety Tips:

Perishable foods including milk, meat and eggs should not be stored above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. If a power outage is 2 hours or less, you don’t need to be concerned, but you should know how to save your food when the refrigerator is out for longer periods of time. Being prepared can help. By planning ahead, you can save your perishables and safeguard your family’s health.

Go to: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/food-safety for additional food safety tips. Now you and I both know!

Remember, if you or a family member was impacted and displaced from the storm, to contact your local Red Cross at 920-468-8535 to see where we might have shelters open, or to receive emergency assistance.

Are YOU Prepared if This Happened to YOU??

30 Neenah homes, businesses lose water service

Neenah crews work on the water supply, Aug. 5, 2013, in an area of the city where coliform bacteria was found. Photo courtesy WLUK/Chad Doran

The American Red Cross will have water available for residents affected by the water shut off until they are able to get water back into their home.  If this happened to you, would you be prepared?

The Red Cross is here to make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be for potential disasters and other emergencies. These events can strike suddenly, at anytime and anywhere. There are three actions everyone can take that can help make a difference.

Be Red Cross Ready Checklist

To learn more about disaster planning or to download our Red Cross preparedness apps go to:   http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps