Superstorm Sandy Response

Local Red Cross volunteers to help Sandy victims

Written by Charles Davis Green Bay Press-Gazette

American Red Cross volunteer Donna LaPlante of Little Suamico stopped at a Green Bay site before heading to New York to help victims of Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 30, 2012. / Charles Davis/Press-Gazette

Two local American Red Cross volunteers are leaving this morning for New York to help feed victims impacted by post-tropical cyclone Sandy.

“They are going to be living in conditions and working in conditions that are identical to the people they’re helping,” said Steve Hansen, chapter executive of the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin. “This is not a vacation for our volunteers.”

Sandy hit the East Coast on Monday, leading to an estimated billion of dollars in damage, millions of people without electric power, thousands of flight cancellations, extreme flooding and at least 17 deaths.

Ginny Gibson of Iron Mountain, Mich., and Donna LaPlante of Little Suamico, will take an emergency response vehicle on a 17-hour drive to the East Coast. The women are expected to arrive late Wednesday in Middletown, N.Y., where they will then be directed to help residents in an area impacted by the storm. The response mission is expected to last from two to three weeks. Southern Baptist disaster relief teams will prepare meals, and the women will then deliver the food to neighborhoods that have been damaged.

“It’s such a rewarding experience to help and give someone a warm meal who hasn’t had a warm meal for days,” Gibson said, adding she has previously responded to several natural disasters, including helping victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

On Tuesday, the women helped load the vehicle with bedding, water and equipment at the American Red Cross offices at 121 Bader St. On the drive there, the volunteers expect to face road closures, downed trees and severe weather.

More than 3,000 American Red Cross volunteers nationwide are responding to the East Coast, Hansen said. Seven volunteers and one employee from the eastern region of Wisconsin already have responded, and another 15 volunteers are on standby to travel to the region once travel restrictions have been removed.

About 30 American Red Cross volunteers from the eastern region of Wisconsin helped in Gulf Coast relief efforts after Hurricane Isaac hit in late August, Hansen said.

“It’s our job to anticipate and prepare for these types of disasters. This is what we do,” he added.

The storm canceled about 100 blood drives in the East Coast region on Monday and local residents are encouraged to donate blood, Hansen said.

— cedavis@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @pgcharlesdavis.

Alario Kitchen story (Southern Baptist partnership)

by Tom Breister & Virginia Hart

Dennis Nagan overseeing Kitchen #5. by Tom Breister

As he has done many times before during disasters, American Red Cross volunteer Dennis Nagan from Appleton, Wisconsin, is preparing to transport meals to disaster-affected clients.

Meals are prepared by the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Kitchen #5 at the Alario Center in Westwego, LA. Food is then stored in large cambros (insulated containers that keep the food piping hot) and American Red Cross workers load them into the back of American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV). ERV’s are then dispatched to different neighborhoods that are desperately in need of hot meals and water. Each ERV can serve over 600 hot meals, plus water and snacks, each time it is dispatched. Depending on need, the ERV’s can service up to 5 routes per day.

ERV drivers are specially trained in Red Cross Chapters across the nation. During a disaster, ERV’s from all over the United States, driven by Red Cross volunteers, mobilize to help feed communities devastated by disaster. The hometown and state of each ERV is imprinted on the side of the vehicle.

Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief often partners with the American Red Cross to provide hot meals immediately following a disaster. They are expert in preparing mass amounts of food. Their state of the art food preparation vehicle costs $450,000. Several of these vehicles can be deployed following a major disaster. Southern Baptist manager Jack Sellers said his organization can produce up to 25,000 meals per day at that one kitchen.

Even though he has been deployed as an ERV coordinator in several past disasters, Nagan laughs and says that he always says “but this one is the best.” “The partnership between the Red Cross and the Southern Baptists is critical in delivering services after a disaster,” Nagan said.

Southern Baptist volunteers prepping meals. photo by Mar Tobiason

Emergency Response Vehicle Sent to Gulf Coast

By: Kris Schuller:  wearegreenbay.com – Click HERE for video of story.

GREEN BAY, WI (WFRV)  Wisconsin workers and volunteers are already heading south to help with storm damage from Tropical Storm Isaac.

The American Red Cross is busy  preparing  its response to the damage Isaac is expected to bring to the northern gulf coast. Fifteen-hundred disaster workers have been deployed to the area, ten of which are from Northeast Wisconsin. Monday evening – one of those volunteers left Green Bay, on a 16-hour drive to New Orleans.

As Tropical Storm Isaac races  toward the northern gulf coast, slowly growing in intensity, Dennis Nagan prepares for a 1-thousand mile trip, to deliver an emergency response vehicle, for use at  shelters in New Orleans.

“I’m  nervous, excited, got the call this morning, ” said Nagan. “It happened fast and we’re getting ready to go.”

So far Isaac has brought heavy rain, power outages and flooding to Florida. But with storm surges expected to reach 12-feet along the northern gulf coastline, many more may find themselves displaced. The mission of the vehicle is to aid in the distribution of food to disaster victims.

“We can take it to areas affected, so as people clean their homes they can get a little comfort, said Jody Weyers of the Lakeland Chapter of the American Red Cross in Green Bay.

The  emergency response vehicle is one of 150 such vehicles, owned by the National Red Cross and stored at local chapters across the country. With Tropical Storm Isaac expected to intensify in the coming days, a call came in from the national office this afternoon – requesting this vehicle be sent a.s.a.p.

“You are right out in front with people who really need the food, goods and supplies the Red Cross provides and I take it seriously, it’s an honor to do it.” said Nagan.

With 42 shelters currently in operation in Florida and evacuations ordered in low lying areas of Louisiana, the Red Cross expects more shelters will be opening soon. And by early tomorrow Nagan will be in the middle of it all, driving a vehicle which brings hope, by helping feed the hungry.

“Hopefully we won’t be needed, But if so, we’ll be there.”

Depending on the damage suffered, Nagan could be away from his family in Appleton for up to three weeks.

Disaster Volunteer, Dave Mooney on His First National Disaster Assignment

Local volunteer, Dave Mooney, is off on his first national disaster deployment. He and another trained Emergency Response Vehicle driver are on the road to Fargo, North Dakota. They will be providing food, water, hot coffee to the thousands of volunteers who are supporting sand bagging efforts, first responders and the community at-large. With the Red River near the flood stage, massive efforts have been taken to limit flood damage and the American Red Cross has shelters, food, clean-up kits and more ready if needed.