Small miracles make a big impact

By Luong Huynh, Disaster Program Specialist

Luong is deployed to the US Virgin Islands & wanted to share her story:

IMGP0453 (2).jpgThis is Mrs. Nelda Ringsborg, a resident of St. John in the USVI. Her home was heavily damaged during Hurricane Irma and she had been living with no power or running water for a week. Nelda had also injured her knee during the storm and, sadly, her husband had passed away last year, so she was trying to survive this ordeal on her own.

Assisted by private citizens, Nelda was brought by boat to the shelter I have been helping to supervise. Through getting to know her, we discovered that she had no access to personal resources and that her only support was someone in Houston.

Over the next three days, Nelda spent her time in the nursing station and we spent our time trying to figure out a way to get her to Houston. We ran into roadblock after roadblock, and Nelda started to lose hope that she would ever be able to leave. Then, one evening, a senator from the USVI that I had met a few days earlier, asked if Nelda was still there. The senator had found an anonymous donor who offered up to $1500 to get Nelda to Houston.

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We booked a flight on her behalf, arranged transport for her, and I sent a volunteer with her to help get her checked into her flight and to make sure airport staff we ready to assist her. Yesterday, she called to let us know that she had made it safely to Houston.

Trading Milkshakes for Disaster Relief

Hurricane Harvey victims received an extra helping of love today, thanks to a team of girls from Brookfield, and Elm Grove, Wis.

After seeing the devastation Hurricane Harvey delivered to Texas, they knew they could use the proceeds from their lemonade stand for a greater purpose.

“Normally, we just buy milkshakes or something,” said 5-year-old Isabel. Instead, Isabel, Emmy, Hannah and Sophia took the $600 they earned from this year’s lemonade stand to help Hurricane Harvey victims.

The girls stopped by Milwaukee’s WITI-TV, Ch. 6 today to donate their earnings to the station’s telethon benefiting the American Red Cross.

“Good people doing good things is what helps drive our mission,” said Patty Flowers, Regional CEO of Wisconsin’s American Red Cross chapter. “Not only does it warm our hearts to see children get involved with such an important cause, it makes a true difference in the lives of people who are experiencing one of the worst times of their lives.”

Do you have proceeds from a lemonade stand burning a hole in your pocket? We can put those dollars to work for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Visit http://www.redcross.org/donate.

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The “lemonade sweethearts” stopped by to make a difference for Hurricane Harvey victims. Pictured left to right are Hannah, 10; Emmy, 10; Isabel, 5; and Sophia, 12. 

 

Let’s Sound the Alarm Together

The fact is most fire deaths are preventable. Yet, seven people perish in fires across the country every single day. One major tool for prevention is a working smoke alarm. Together, to help reduce home fire deaths and injuries, volunteers and partners across the country along with the American Red Cross will participate in the Sound the Alarm campaign.

36071126730_83faf5f12d_z-2.jpgBetween September 23rd – October 15th, the American Red Cross will install over 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 high-risk neighborhoods nationwide.  During this time, the Red Cross will also install its one-millionth smoke alarm.  WOW! This number includes at least 1,500 of those alarms being installed in the Wisconsin Region.

Last fall, the Red Cross along with participating fire stations installed more than 800 alarms in Brown County.  However, this year we are focusing on areas with higher rates of home fires which includes Milwaukee & Dane County.  Additional smaller smoke alarm installations are also being hosted around the state.

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The fire aftermath that devastated Kevin & Elizabeth Brown’s home but whose family was saved by working smoke alarms!

Smoke alarms save our lives! Kevin & Elizabeth Brown, along with their 5-year old son, escaped a burning mobile home thanks to smoke alarms installed by the Red Cross in a partnership with the Janesville Fire Department.  See more photos here.

 

Already smoke alarms have saved 268 lives in the nation including three in Janesville, Wisconsin.  So we are asking for your support on these up-coming Sound the Alarm events! Join Us!

Saturday, September 23rd Milwaukee, WI
October 5-7th, Superior, WI
Saturday, October 7th Madison, WI

“Each time we install alarms, we know lives are safer. Being part of the million-alarm milestone highlights our mission to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.” Patty Flowers, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Wisconsin Region.

If you are unable to volunteer to help install free smoke alarms in your local communities you can also participate by fundraising to support the Sound the Alarm program. Learn more here.

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Summer Safety Tips for your Furry Friends

By Melissa Sears, American Red Cross Volunteer & Animal Lover

It’s hard to resist those beautiful 80 degree weather days when the sun is out, skies are clear & it’s the perfect time to take your playful pooch to the dog park. After a long week indoors at work, it can be tempting to play catch outside for hours with Michael Bark Jordan, bring your furry companion camping for the weekend or enjoy a local pet-friendly outdoor festival. Even if you don’t have your little fur ball of joy with you, keeping them in mind while you’re out for the entire day is important for their safety.

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It’s important to know the where, when & how pets are likely to overheat.  If your pet stays at home, try keeping a fan or two on in the house, brush them often or take them to a pet groomer to get a shave.  There are even cool, tasty treats you can make your cats & dogs since you can’t share your popsicle or ice cream with your fur-child. Know how to be aware of the signs & what to do with your pet during the summer time with some of these Summer Pet Safety Tips:

● Age, weight & breed of your pet can cause them overheat easier. Pets that are
very young, old, overweight or don’t get enough exercise are more susceptible to
heat stroke as well as certain dog breeds like boxers and pugs are prone to overheat.

● Physical signs of overheating & heat stroke include: heavy panting, glazed eyes,
rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of
coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and
unconsciousness.

● Your pet should have equal parts sun & shade during hot, humid days. Make sure they get plenty water during summer activities.  Tip: Buy a collapsible travel water bowl that you can bring with you to a restaurant, festival or even on a run at the park.

● Be able to treat your pet if you suspect heat stroke. Learn more here.

Download the Pet First Aid app on Apple or Android phones for mobile access when you’re on-the-go because when something happens & you need to know what to do in the moment it’s helpful to have pet emergency support available on-hand.

Flood Relief Touted by Top State Leader

Surrounded by American Red Cross responders, corporate leaders and Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker, Patty Flowers kicked-off a news conference to highlight flood relief efforts. She also issued a call to action for people to get involved by preparing for emergencies, donating their time as a blood donor, becoming a disaster responder in your own communities, of which the training is free, and by making a financial gift to support the ongoing relief efforts.

From left to right: Rebecca Fitzgerald (Johnson Controls Inc.), Patty Flowers (Red Cross Regional CEO), Laura Timm (Briggs & Stratton), Mary Lou Young (United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha), Governor Scott Walker, Jim Ladwig (SC Johnson), Tami Garrison (MillerCoors), Lisa Nelson (Walmart)

The Wisconsin region of the Red Cross responds to nearly 900 disasters annually and the recent 20-county flood counts as just one disaster. Overall, 90% of the Red Cross workforce is volunteer including the board of directors. Disaster teams have provided the following services during the flooding:

  • Opened and operated 10 shelters
  • Supported four Multi-agency Resource Centers
  • Distributed 9,360 relief items
  • Served more than 4,000 meals and snacks
  • Provided more than 250 health and mental health contacts.

In addition, the Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990 is open 24 hours a day for anyone who has been affected by the flood and may need additional emotional support.

Governor Walker shared that when he travels the state to disaster areas, he is always comforted knowing Red Cross responders are there.

All disaster assistance is free as it is a gift from the American people. All financial donations, large and small, make a tremendous impact as 91 cents of every dollar goes directly into programs and services. A $25 dollar donation provides a household with valuable clean-up supplies after a flood, while $200 covers the cost for a family of four to stay in a shelter, provide three meals, personal hygiene items and resources to begin recovery.

Business leaders joining in the news conference included Jim Ladwig, Director Global Community Affairs from SC Johnson who presented the Red Cross with a $100,000 check for disaster relief. Lisa Nelson from the Walmart Corporation also presented a $50,000 check — $25,000 of which will benefit the Wisconsin relief and $25,000 of which will support the Illinois response efforts. Four other Wisconsin companies made gifts of $10,000+ to help with the recent floods– Associated Bank, Logistics Health, Gold’n Plump and We Energies. With these donations, almost half the flooding expenses will be covered.

From left to right: Patty Flowers (Red Cross Regional CEO), Governor Scott Walker, Jim Ladwig (SC Johnson)

The Red Cross thanks its partners in the Annual Disaster Giving Program and Disaster Responder program who contribute $250,000 or more annually to ensure Red Cross has funds to support disaster relief: Johnson Controls, Kohl’s, Northwestern Mutual, Rayovac and SC Johnson.

The Red Cross is grateful to many corporate and community partners who donated goods, space and time to help reduce costs of the response.

With almost 900 disasters around the state each year, the fundraising needs are great so people can always count on the Red Cross during disasters.

You can help people affected by disasters like the recent floods and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Checks can be sent to the Milwaukee office at 2600 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Tornados Deliver Harsh Message To Shawano County

By Marilyn Janke, America Red Cross volunteer

The meteorologist said they were small tornados but the families impacted by them saw them as big ones!

Three tornados touched down in Shawano shawanotornado3County on Wednesday, June 14th leaving numerous outbuildings flattened and one mobile home completely destroyed. The Red Cross responded within hours to set up a reception area for those who might need the respite, sent out people to contact those affected from the storm and alleviated the worry of a resident facing storm damage caused by water cascading into her living room.

On a local farm, the farmer’s adult son was in one of the sheds, when the tornado swooped down with little warning but with its usual roar. All he could do, was grab a chair, surround himself with bales of hay and if the story holds true, lit a cigarette and waited for his demise. He calmly faced the inevitable that turned out to be only the loss of a large shed and not his life. The experience kept everything in perspective.

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Interestingly, a small pencil size piece of wood was hammered into a tree without splintering. It was one of those pictures that one hears about but never quite believes.

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The long time farmer is now a believer in weird happenings like this. The squawking of peacocks from the side field indicated that their birds were still strutting their stuff. On further inspection it appeared that they were minus a couple of the feathered friends. Strong winds hit and they just flew the coop.

The mobile home did not fare well and was totally destroyed leaving the resident without her home.  The anxiety, grief and uncertainty appeared to be etched in her face. With the support of family and friends, she was literally picking up the pieces. Neither her horse was touched nor was his stable damaged. However, within feet of that was the flattened home. She was carefully going through the debris to find anything that might be usable in the future. The Red Cross provided the chance for her to garner comfort, an idea of what to do next and reassurances that this was in so many ways fixable.

shawanotornado5.jpgThe quiet comfort she gave to this tornado victim was both needed and priceless. While the storm covered a path that left people in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Red Cross was definitely there at just the right time.

 

If you would like to join the dynamic team of disaster responders, please visit redcross.org/volunteer to begin your journey.

Shawano County Twister Photos

Tomah VA Partners with Red Cross to Fish

fish1Story & photos by: Ben Seiler, American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region

Tomah, Wisconsin, June 10, 2017 – Hot temps and humid weather did not keep the residents of the Tomah VA Medical center from getting out and casting a few lines.

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Veteran Jim Hendricks poses with his catch of the day.  Jim had been sporting pan fish all day until he reeled in his 15 in. Large Mouth Bass.

 

As part of a new program, The Red Cross Service to Armed Forces division is now sending volunteers to the Tomah VA. Every other Saturday, volunteers escort residents a quarter mile down to the fish pond, with only one intent, to fish.

Although fishing has been around for 27 years at the location, “A lot of our guys are in wheel chairs, and need to be pushed out which drives the need for additional volunteers,” said Amy Olson, Recreation Therapy Assistant in the Med. Center.

Helping the Veterans get out of the ward, and do something that brings back childhood memories paves way for better treatment and overall a greater welfare for the men, women, and families that have served out country.

Tomah VA SAF Fishing Excursion Photos