More Red Cross volunteers head south

23 Northeast Wisconsinites currently deployed

Click on the photo to see video of this story.

Flooding of the lower Mississippi River is getting worse, though much of Memphis was spared Tuesday.

Water flooded low-lying areas and submerged some homes.

Officials are cautiously optimistic that levees will hold, preventing widespread damage.

However volunteers, including some from Northeast Wisconsin, are pouring in to assist.

The American Red Cross says it now has 23 people from our area in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

They’re helping with a previous disaster and the current one.

“People losing loved ones or neighbors that they’ve know for ages,” volunteer Joyce Keyes said. “You know they really get to you and you feel a lot of empathy for their loss.”

Keyes is stationed in North Central Alabama, one of the areas hit hardest by tornados in late April.

“The houses are just totally leveled the trees are stripped and broken,” she explained.

Luckily the area she’s in is not dealing with flooding.

As a mental health professional, her focus is on helping disaster victims deal with their emotional wounds.

Steven Maricque, Executive Director of the the Red Cross’s Lakeland Chapter, says people like Keyes are in demand right now.

Two more mental health workers from the area will leave for the South next week.

But, Maricque says all eyes are on Mississippi.

“It’s a fluid situation that develops day to day based on how that water is moving,” he said. “Do we get additional rainfall that might require more people?”

Maricque says the chapter’s emergency response vehicle is in Memphis with volunteers.

But the situation is taxing resources.

“We support and provide relief for over 75,000 disasters a year in this country, but the neighborhood fires the family fires those don’t stop,” Maricque said.

The Red Cross is hoping donations won’t either.

Agency efforts in the Alabama and Mississippi tornados are expected to cost $30 million, and the total is rising with the river in Tennessee.

 

 

Red Cross Send Five People to Help for Tornado Relief Efforts in Mississippi

(l-r) Joe Gerrits, Judy Gregory, Disaster Services Director, and Jim Meverden signing their paper work to be deployed.

The American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter has dispatched five disaster volunteers, to Jackson,MS to assist with the April tornadoes that devastated so much of the south almost one week ago.

For this assignment all five volunteers are going out in bulk distribution, but may be reassigned once they get on the ground.

James Meverden of Green Bay, this will be his third assignment. He assisted back in 2005 for Hurricane Katrina & Rita and again in 2008 for Hurricane Gustav and Ike.

This will be the first national disaster assignment for the other four individuals.

Joseph Gerrits of Depere, said “I am very excited and nervous with anticipation for what will await me and I am very surprised I was able to sleep last night.”

Jerry Prellwitz, of Green Bay, commented that ever since he became a disaster volunteer helping on local assignments, he has waited for his chance to go out on a national assignment to gain that additional experience.

Donna LaPlante, of Little Suamico, is excited and really glad to be able to do something to help the people. “Of course, I am also very nervous,” said LaPlante.”

The final member going out is Thomas Kendall, of Green Bay.

Red Cross President Goes to Alabama and Mississippi Following Deadly Tornadoes

Sunday, May 01, 2011 —

Jamiyah Lawson, age 4, receives a donated meal from Red Cross volunteer Carole Bird of Panama City, FL, during the aftermath of the tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Gail McGovern, the president and CEO of the Red Cross, today is traveling to tornado-ravaged parts of Alabama and Mississippi today with several Cabinet leaders, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

McGovern and the group of federal government leaders, which also includes FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, are expected to visit damaged sections of Birmingham, Alabama and Smithville, Mississippi.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross, government and other non-profit partners are continuing to respond to the devastation in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and a number of other states where people need assistance. Some areas are taking time to get to because of the destruction and impassible roads.

Thousands of people from Missouri to North Carolina are returning to their homes to start the recovery process after a series of devastating tornadoes over the past two weeks.  The damage left behind will require a long-term disaster operation across a large region of the country. The American Red Cross is present in 12 states providing shelter, food and emotional support.  

“The damage caused by the storms is unbelievable,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Red Cross Disaster Services, who has visited Tuscaloosa, Ala. and witnessed the devastation first hand. “This is a regional disaster and the Red Cross is delivering services based on the needs of each specific area.”

In addition to working with local and federal agencies, the Red Cross has also partnered with community organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Southern Baptist Convention and the NAACP to support people in the affected areas.  “With a disaster of this scope and magnitude, the demands are great, and it’s important that we all work together to meet these demands,” Shimansk added.

In the month of April, the Red Cross provided food and a safe place to stay to thousands of people, serving more than 300,000 meals and snacks and opening 94 shelters across the country.

The Red Cross urges residents to exercise extreme caution as they return to their neighborhoods.  People should follow these steps to help ensure they remain safe:

  • Avoid downed power lines and smell for gas when entering your home or office.  Wear protective clothing like rubber gloves and boots when cleaning your home. 
  • Dispose of food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud, including canned goods, capped bottles and sealed containers.  Water may not be safe to drink, clean with, or bathe in after an emergency such as a flood.  Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your water supply is tested and found safe. 
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.

If you would like to help, there are several ways that people can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief: Visit redcross.org to donate online, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Additional information is available on www.redcross.org

American Red Cross Deploys Local Volunteer to Mississippi

It’s almost lunch time and 10 year-old Tyaleia Allen is having her first meal of the day; that’s being provided by the American Red Cross. Photo Credit: Tamica Smith-Jeuitt/American Red Cross

American Red Cross volunteer Tom Powell, of Ripon, will be leaving Wednesday, April 20, for Jackson, MS to help the people impacted by the multiple tornadoes and storms that affected not just Mississippi but also Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas.

Tom is assigned to go out as a Disaster Mental Health Supervisor. As a supervisor he potentially could be over seeing other mental health volunteers working in a shelter, service center or helping with outreach teams in the field.  Tom will obtain his specific assignment and location once he lands in Jackson,MS.

Disasters can have a huge emotional impact on people and it is great to have trained volunteers, like Tom, that are there to lend a shoulder and just be there for someone to talk to,” said Nick Clippert, Emergency Services Manager, East Central WI Chapter.

This will be Tom’s fourth national disaster assignment. His first was for Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 and he has also assisted in mental health for the Wisconsin Floods in 2007 and 2008.

Tom was a clinical Psychologist at Theda Clark before retirement and has been a Red Cross mental health volunteer for seven years.

Tom is the second local Red Cross person to be deployed to help with the Southern Tornadoes. Sunday, April17, Barbara Behling, regional community development officer for the American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin, arrived in Raleigh,NC. She is working with the Red Cross Public Affairs Team.

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help people affected by disasters like these tornadoes and wildfires. You can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit http://www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American 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.

Red Cross Responds After Tornadoes, Wildfires Leave Devastation Across The South

Editorial note: Call (202) 303-5551 to speak with an American Red Cross spokesperson on the groundVisit the Red Cross Disaster Online Newsroom for response information, including photos, audio, and press releases.

Residents wait to receive meals from an Emergency Response Vehicle in Raleigh, NC.

 WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 – The American Red Cross is working around the clock to provide relief to people affected by the deadly tornadoes and scorching wildfires that left a path of destruction in six states across the south over the weekend.

Strong tornadoes ripped homes off their foundations, destroyed businesses and schools, overturned cars and buses, uprooted trees and downed power lines in Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. In North Carolina alone, preliminary disaster assessments show almost 500 homes destroyed and more than 1,000 damaged. Some of the hardest hit areas are still inaccessible, and officials say that many more than 1,000 families will be homeless in the state.

Red Cross workers sheltered more than 500 people over the weekend, served meals throughout the affected neighborhoods, and provided personal hygiene items and supplies to help as the clean-up begins. With government officials reporting more than 40 deaths from the tornadoes, Red Cross disaster mental health workers are available to help people cope with the aftermath. Red Cross chapters throughout the south are deploying trained disaster teams into the area and more than 25 Red Cross emergency response vehicles are in hard-hitNorth Carolina, or on their way to the state.

Red Cross workers make their way through devastated neighborhoods throughout West Texas. Photo Credit: Phil Beckman/American Red Cross

In Texas, wildfires have spread across more than 700,000 acres, destroying homes and forcing people to leave their neighborhoods. Red Cross disaster workers have opened shelters and are feeding those displaced by the fires. As families return to their neighborhoods, Red Cross teams are providing them with food and water. The Red Cross is also assisting those who have lost their homes to the fires, providing them with food, clothing and other necessities.

“Families have lost everything, and we are doing what we can to help them as they figure out what’s next,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “We’ll continue to help them in the weeks ahead as they try to get back on their feet.”

Since the end of March, the Red Cross has offered relief to people affected by 35 disasters in 20 states. The Red Cross is able to respond quickly with the help of corporations who are members of the organization’s Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). ADGP 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.

ADGP members include 3M, Altria, Aon, Cisco Foundation, ConAgra Foods, Darden Restaurants, Inc., Dr Pepper Snapple Group, FedEx Corporation, GE Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, John Deere Foundation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kraft Foods, Lowe’s Companies, Inc., Merck, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Insurance Foundation,  Northrop Grumman, Ryder Charitable Foundation, Southwest Airlines, State Farm, State Street Foundation, Target,  The TJX Companies, Inc., UnitedHealthcare, UPS and Walmart.

 The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help people affected by disasters like these tornadoes and wildfires. You can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit http://www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American 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.

Red Cross Responds to Southern Spring Storms and Rising Red River in North Dakota

Red Cross Disaster efforts span 13 states in just the past week

Dempsey Brady and his family gathered in the hallway as the storms from Monday night ripped through the Ellisville, MS area. They were safely in the hallway when the storm tore the roof off of their home. They were very thankful for the Red Cross visiting with them to meet their immediate emergency needs.

Today, the American Red Cross is responding across the South after severe spring storms affected hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. At the same time, Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in North Dakota and Minnesota as the Red River continues to rise. In fact, since late March, the Red Cross has played a role in 14 disaster events in 13 states across the nation.

“Red Cross workers are helping people across the South whose homes were damaged by the recent storms, or who have no power to stay warm or cook meals for their family,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “At the same time we have trained workers and relief supplies in place in North Dakota and Minnesota, supporting the local volunteers who are fighting to protect their neighborhoods from the rising Red River.”

Wild spring storms damaged homes, downed trees and cut out power overnight in many areas of the South. Red Cross chapters opened shelters to offer people a safe place to stay and deployed disaster teams and response vehicles throughout the damaged communities. Red Cross workers are feeding emergency responders and people affected by the storms, and distributing items to help residents clean up the storm damage.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross has set up headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota to provide meals and mental emotional support as the Red River threatens to overflow its banks. More than 50 Red Cross disaster workers are either on the ground already, or en route to the Red River Valley. Ten Red Cross emergency vehicles have been deployed to the area to help with mobile feeding and distribution of clean-up items and basic necessities like toothbrushes and soap. The Red Cross has already served more than 157,000 meals in support of sandbagging efforts.

April’s severe weather has kept Red Cross disaster workers busy. This latest disaster response comes on the heels of the Red Cross assisting people in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Texas where wildfires burned thousands of acres, destroyed homes and forced people to evacuate from their neighborhoods. The Red Cross opened shelters for those who had to leave their homes and provided food and refreshments for emergency responders.

Red Cross disaster workers were also on the scene in Florida after tornadoes, thunderstorms, high winds and flooding damaged homes and left thousands without power. Red Cross chapters throughout the state responded, opening shelters, providing food and drinks for emergency responders, and deploying emergency vehicles to distribute clean-up items to those affected by the storms.

The American Red Cross responds to as many as 200 disasters a day in the United States. This assistance helps people affected by larger emergencies such as the severe weather occurring across the country, or a family whose home is destroyed by fire. The Red Cross also continues to help the people of Japan and support the residents of Haiti. If you would like to help, you can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999. You can also mail your contribution to your local chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.       

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.

 

Fast Facts: Spring Storms Response

The following information shows our total service delivery across Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma since the beginning of the severe weather events in April:

  • Shelters opened: 63
  • Shelter Overnight Stays: 9,608
  • Clean up kits:  23,715
  • Comfort kits: 12,344
  • Meals served: 189,867
  • Snacks served: 254,754
  • Emergency Response Vehicles on the ground: 113
  • Mental Health Consultations: 10,488
  • Health Services Consultations: 8,351
  • 1-866-GET-INFO calls: 5,253
  • Total Red Cross Workers: 4,674 (4,287 volunteers)

Stats as of May 27, 2010