The American Red Cross Responds to Wildfires; Local Volunteer Answers the Call to Help

Disaster Mental Health Manager Diane Hermanson looks at damaged property from the Washington wildfires. The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started.

Disaster Mental Health Manager Diane Hermanson looks at damaged property from the Washington wildfires. The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started.

Wildfires have already destroyed almost 300,000 acres in Washington and officials are asking for other states to send firefighters to help put out the flames. The American Red Cross is supporting the affected residents and first responders fighting to extinguish the blazes.

 The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started. Many others visit the shelters during the day to get the latest information about the fires and have access to other services.

Red Cross workers have already provided more than 3,200 meals and snacks and the Southern Baptist Convention has opened a mobile kitchen to help the Red Cross distribute meals throughout the affected areas as they are deemed safe. They are also providing health and mental health services and meeting one-on one with people to determine what other services they need.

The Red Cross is also distributing things such as trash bags, heavy work gloves and masks to people who are starting to sift through the ashes where their homes once stood. Red Cross workers remain in close coordination with Emergency Management teams to identify what additional help people may need.

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Shirley and Rudy Senarighi

On Tuesday, July 22, Rudy Senarighi, of Sturgeon Bay, WI, packed his bags and was on a flight to Seattle, Washington to assist in the area of Disaster Mental Health. This is not his first deployment, and usually he goes out with this wife, Shirley, who is also a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Volunteer. Between the two of them, the couple has over 60 years of professional experience as counselors, teachers and administrative supervisors.

We are proud of Rudy for putting his life on hold to answer the call to help. Rudy is now into day three of his Red Cross deployment. We thank him for sharing his thoughts, experiences, and how the Red Cross is helping those impacted.

Day 1:

Made it to Wenatchee. Really a pretty place on the floor of the river valley. Tomorrow I head up to Brewster, WA. Most of the place burned to the ground. Will be meeting with townspeople. We also will go to Omak which is nearby. There are 13 of us that will be divided into 6 teams. We heard tonight that the fire has shifted and is heading toward a wilderness area near the Canadian border.

Burned-vehicles-NW-wildfires-jpgDay 2:

Spent the day in and around Pateros, WA connecting with people and bringing water to those in part of the burned out area. The town is still without power, but has drinkable water now. I am amazed at the heat that fire must have generated. Saw cars that had burned with puddles of melted aluminum around the ends of the axles from what had been the hub caps. The only evidence of some homes were cinder blocks stacked in a rectangle. I’m scheduled to go back to Pateros tomorrow with my partner to meet with the community. The big fire is 0% contained, but the fire fighters are trying to direct it NE. That is an area that was burned a few years ago and thus there is less fuel in that area for the fire to really burn. Today, just after my partner and I returned to Pateros, there was a lightening strike along the road we had just driven, and started another fire. These guys just can’t get a break.

Day 3: 

Pateros was an exciting day. Heard lots of stories, connected with many people. The fire was described by many as a “Fire Storm”. It rolled through the town and valleys very fast, only about 20 minutes. The fire trucks tried to keep up but they drained the cities water and couldn’t do anything more. The only interruptions came when the tanker planes flew over and scooped water out of the Columbia River, a sight I had only seen in movies. National guard moved in today and are doing 24/7 checks of property and people in the back country. Still some looting happening. People are very friendly and appreciative of our presence. we are working closely with the people of Pateros, they really have things under control, an exemplary job. Will go back tomorrow and set up a permanent site for Red Cross at the supply station there. Fire is 52% contained, but we were cautioned that contained does not mean controlled. however, the fire fighters are making progress every day. The hot weather and wind is a problem, both for the fire and for blowing loose ash and dust in the air. Skin feels pretty gritty tonight. But, they just moved us into a different staff shelter, Wenatchee High School. That means hot water and showers tonight.

The work of the American Red Cross is made possible by donations. Donations can be made by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent by mail to a local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross via P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Red Cross Helping Oklahoma Tornado Victims With Shelter, Food, Relief Supplies

The American Red Cross is working around the clock to help people in Oklahoma after Monday’s devastating tornadoes with shelters, food, water and supplies, and more workers, supplies and equipment are moving into the area today.

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with all those impacted by these horrific tornadoes,” said Trevor Riggen, vice president of Disaster Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Specialized Red Cross disaster teams are helping now and will be helping for weeks to come as people in Oklahoma recover from these storms.”
from twitter account of: @redcrossokc - Red Cross Oklahoma

from twitter account of: @redcrossokc – Red Cross Oklahoma

The Red Cross deployed almost 30 emergency response vehicles to distribute food and relief supplies and more are on alert. Two Southern Baptist Convention kitchens and kitchen support trailers will join the relief effort with the ability to serve tens of thousands of meals a day. Emergency aid stations will open where people can get food and snacks, mental health and health services and information about what help is available. The Red Cross is supporting first responders and working with local and state officials to make sure people get the help they need. Meanwhile, the Red Cross continues to provide shelter in Shawnee and other parts of the Oklahoma City area following storms over the weekend.

SAFE AND WELLThe Red Cross has several ways people can let loved ones know they are safe. They can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website by visiting www.redcross.org and clicking on the “List Yourself or Search Registrants” link under “How to Get Help”. Those who can’t access a computer can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and a Red Cross operator can help them register. Disaster victims can also update their Facebook and Twitter status through the Safe and Well website or visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell on their smart phone and clickon the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for friends and family” link.

DOWNLOAD TORNADO APP. If someone has the Red Cross tornado app on their mobile device, they can use the “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know they are okay. The app can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Androidby searching for American Red Cross. It includes a high-pitched siren and tornado warning alert that signals when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued, as well as also an all-clear alert that lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled. Content is preloaded so users have access to critical information even without mobile connectivity, including locations of open Red Cross shelters and the one-touch “I’m Safe” messaging to let loved ones know they are okay through social media outlets. More than a million alerts were sent from the Red Cross tornado app with 340 separate tornado warning/watch notices on Sunday and Monday as tornadoes hit in Oklahoma and other states.

HOW TO HELPThose who would like to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations help provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

BLOOD SUPPLIESThe Red Cross stands ready to help meet the blood needs of patients in and around Oklahoma City if needed, and there is currently enough blood on the shelves to meet patient demands. The Red Cross is a secondary supplier of blood products to hospitals in the affected area in Oklahoma. People with type O negative blood are encouraged to give blood when they are able. All eligible blood donors can schedule an appointment to give in the days and weeks ahead by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting www.redcrossblood.org to help ensure blood is available when people need it.

CORPORATIONS HELP The Red Cross is able to respond quickly when emergencies like this happen with the help of corporations who are members of the organization’s Annual Disaster Giving (ADGP) and Disaster Responder programs. Program members pledge donations on an ongoing basis to allow the Red Cross to pre-position supplies and be ready to take immediate action when disasters occur.

Current ADGP members are:

3M; Altria Group; Aon; AT&T; Bank of America; BNY Mellon; Briggs & Stratton Corporation; Caterpillar Inc.; CHS Foundation; Cisco Foundation; Citi Foundation; The Clorox Company; Community Safety Foundation funded by AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah Insurance Exchange; ConAgra Foods Foundation; Costco Wholesale Corporation; Darden Restaurants, Inc.; Dell Inc.; Discover; Disney; Dr Pepper Snapple Group; Edison International; FedEx Corporation; GE Foundation; Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation; The Home Depot Foundation; Humble Bundle; jcpenney; John Deere Foundation; Johnson Controls; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; Kraft Foods Group; Lowe’s Companies, Inc.; Medtronic; Meijer; Merck Co. Foundation; Mondelēz International; National Grid; Nationwide Insurance Foundation; Northrop Grumman; Optum; PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation; Southwest Airlines; Sprint; State Farm; State Street; Target; Texas Instruments; The TJX Companies, Inc.; UnitedHealthcare; University of Phoenix; UPS; US Airways; Walmart; WellPoint Foundation; Wells Fargo.

Disaster Responder members include:

American Express; AstraZeneca; AXA Foundation; Delta Air Lines; Farmers Insurance; Ford Motor Company; General Motors Foundation; H&R Block; Ingersoll Rand; Morgan Stanley; New Balance Foundation; Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation; PuroClean; Ryder Charitable Foundation; Starbucks Coffee Company and Starbucks Foundation; Sunoco; Tyson Foods, Inc.; U.S. Bank; Western Union Foundation.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 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 visitredcross.orgor visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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.

VOLUNTEERS LEAD DISASTER RESPONSE

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.”

SAFETY STEPS

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.

HOW TO HELP

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.

Disaster Alert: Earthquake in Japan, Tsunami Warnings

Disaster Alert Update 1:54 PM – Our hearts go out to the people of Japan and the other survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. Right now, we are in discussions with the Japanese Red Cross to assess their needs and see how we can help. The Japanese Red Cross has extraordinary disaster response capabilities. They have been operating since 1887, and they run multiple hospitals and blood collection services across the country.

Eleven Japanese response teams are currently assessing damage and supplying first aid in the affected region. In addition, the Japanese government has mobilized an emergency response, deploying 900 rescue workers to this area.

The American Red Cross has a warehouse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, fully stocked with pre-positioned relief supplies for 5,000 families, and it has disaster specialists on stand by. These supplies can be used for people in U.S. territories or other Pacific nations.

Domestic Update:
American Red Cross chapters in the pacific islands of Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands and Guam as well as those on the west coast of the U.S. are on alert and ready to provide assistance as needed.

In Hawaii, evacuation centers (not managed by the Red Cross) were set up for people who left their homes. These centers provide a safe place outside of the evacuation zone for residents to gather, access a restroom and drinking water. The Hawaii Red Cross is staging cots and blankets across the islands in case shelters are needed.

Evacuation shelters are open with additional locations on standby in Oregon, Washington and California. The Red Cross is working closely with state officials in Hawaii and West Coast Emergency Operations Centers around activities such as sheltering and feeding.

Approximately 100 Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles are on standby.

Red Cross disaster supply warehouses in Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands), California, Washington and Hawaii are activated in case relief supplies are needed. We’re mobilizing resources as necessary and are coordinating with FEMA and state Emergency Operation Centers.

See our post on finding information about family members affected by the earthquake.

Update 1:24 PM – The American Red Cross has created a designation for our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific. If you wish to give, please visit http://american.redcross.org/rcchatnews.

Donations can also be made to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief by texting REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.

Update 11:45 AM – The American Red Cross is prepared to respond to any domestic or Japanese request for blood as a result of the earthquake in Japan and the Pacific Tsunami.

The American Red Cross will ship blood products outside of the United States (adhering to appropriate regulatory guidelines), following a specific request from the Japanese government or the Japanese Red Cross.

To date, the American Red Cross has not received any requests for blood from the Japanese Red Cross, the Japanese government or the U.S. State Department.

At this time, we are not collecting blood from individuals in America to go to Japan and we do not anticipate the need for a general blood donor appeal to support our preparedness efforts. Should the need arise, the American Red Cross will do everything it can to assist Japan with their request.

As always, blood donors in the United States are encouraged to call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at redcrossblood.org to make an appointment to give blood. Your blood donation will become part of the nation’s blood supply and will help ensure that we are prepared for any blood needs that arise here at home or wherever blood is needed.

Japan – A series of major earthquakes struck off the coast of Japan at around 2:46 pm JST on March 11. One of the earthquakes measured 8.9 in magnitude. Tsunami warnings, watches, and advisories are in effect in multiple locations.