In Memory: Vic Fousek, Disaster Volunteer

By Nick Cluppert, Disaster Services Director

On Saturday, July 6, 2013 we lost a great friend, volunteer, leader and Hero of the Red Cross when Victor (Vic) Fousek passed away at the age of 74.

Vic has been a volunteer with Red Cross since 2003, and had given Red Cross many hours of his time volunteering with the Disaster Action Team responding to fires and other disasters in the Waushara County and surrounding area.

Vic also gave his time to deploy nationally on about 11 national deployments.  His first deployment was to Hurricane Dennis in July of 2005 where he went to Alabama and assisted those affected through working in the Feeding activity.  Vic also deployed to Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Wilma in 2005, MN/WI Flooding in 2007, the 2008 Wisconsin floods, Hurricane Ike in 2008, ND/Western MN Floods in February 2011, North Dakota Floods in June 2011, and Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Vik - 1Vic enjoyed driving the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) as you can see in the photo of him in his Green Bay Packers shirts when he deployed to North Dakota for flooding.

Locally Vic was a leader with the Waushara County Disaster Action Team where he responded to fires throughout the county.  It was just the day before Vic passed away that he responded to an apartment fire in Wautoma where Red Cross assisted those that were displaced because of the fire.  Vicki Jenks, a fellow Disaster Action Team volunteer, had Vic as one of her mentors when she first started out as a Red Cross disaster volunteer.

She stated, “When I first joined the Tri-County DAT in October of 2007 I tagged along on 3 or 4 fires with Vic and Edith.  What I most noted about Vic was how genuinely kind, considerate and CALM he was in every situation.  He always found the best in people while honoring all the “ins and outs” of client casework.”

Vic also dedicated his time and efforts to help raise money for the Red Cross, by putting out canisters in his local community to help support local disaster relief in his community.

vic 2

Vic & a number of the other Tri-County DAT volunteers at a recent meeting. He is in the second row on the right.

He helped with donations of some of his woodwork for the HEROES Benefit Musicals put on in Wild Rose for the silent auction.  Vic was involved with the Musicals fundraiser for the Red Cross for six straight years.

Vic also was involved with the Lions Club, and as part of that helped to organize blood drives for the Red Cross in the Coloma area.

Through his work with Blood Services Vic has helped save lives and as a disaster volunteer has helped people start to rebuild their lives after losing almost everything.  Vic is a special Hero in all of our hearts and will be truly missed by all of his Red Cross family and friends.

Being Prepared and Ready to Roll

By Nick Cluppert, Disaster Services: Regional Manager, Training & Development

2013-03-159508_24_02_There’s a new resource that is in our region that will be a huge asset when there is a disaster affecting a large number of people with functional needs. Thanks to the J. J. Keller Foundation and other donors we now have a “functional needs” shelter trailer that is housed at the Oshkosh Red Cross Office and loaded up with 60+ functional needs and bariatric cots.

The new cots are easier for someone that may be in a wheelchair to transfer on to, has a back that can raise up if someone can’t lay flat and has rails to prevent someone from rolling off the cot. In addition to the cots that are in the new functional needs shelter trailer each shelter trailer throughout the Eastern Wisconsin Region has at least two functional needs cots in them so there is something that they can start with if there is a need for the functional needs cots in a shelter that is opened up. If there is a greater need then the functional needs shelter trailer can be mobilized to bring in that additional resource to support that shelter.

It is important for us to be prepared and ready to respond, and through donations we are now even more prepared to respond and assist individuals and families in need following a disaster.

Neenah Volunteer Answers the Call for the Second Time for “Sandy”

Harvey Lorenz and Nick Cluppert 2

Harvey Lorenz, Disaster Volunteer, from Neenah,  is leaving on Thursday for New Jersey to assist on his second National Deployment for Hurricane Sandy.

Harvey deployed to New York back in November. He will be assisting as a supervisor in the area of Financial & Statistical Information. When asked  what motivates him to go out on deployments:

 “It is just a calling I feel comfortable answering.  I know there are people that have it a lot worse than I do.  I’m just happy I have the time to devote to this.”

(L-R) Harvey Lorenz completing his paper work with Nick Cluppert, Disaster Services, Regional Manager, Training & Development

Wisconsin Disaster Training Conference Announced

American Red Cross chapters serving all of Wisconsin, plus the Michigan border communities are proud to announce the Disaster Training Conference will be held at the Gruenhagen Conference Center on the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Campus from October 18-21, 2012. The conference includes classes across several emergency response lines of service. Courses will be taught-by, and open-to, community partners as well as newcomers and long-time Red Cross responders.

Specific training tracks are scheduled so a person can grow within their chosen line of service. Training tracks include: health services, mental health, sheltering, operations management, feeding and disaster communications. Therefore, a person with professional skills, such as a licensed mental health professional, can learn the Red Cross guidance to make their disaster deployment the most beneficial for the people we serve. In other capacities, we are looking for volunteers with a strong will to help others, are compassionate and are ready for training.

All courses will have a strong emphasis on collaborative efforts before, during and after disasters. For instance, fostering working relationships with other first responders, community leaders and mutual aid assets are vital to a successful response. While we have the trained team to establish a shelter, we need the location, which is where our community partners and advanced planning comes into play.

All courses are free to disaster responders, just like the services we provide during times of need. In fact, the Red Cross responds to more than 70,000 disasters a year – more than 1,100 in Wisconsin last year. Course participants will be asked to respond to local disasters first and then as skills and availability rise, they maybe deployed to larger or national assignments. This type of advanced training and readiness can only happen with the financial support of our donors.

For more information, please call either Nick Cluppert, Regional Disaster Training Manager at 920-642-0089 or or go to for the complete list of classes, registration information and more.

We are on What’s Happening Waupaca August Episode

Do you live in the Waupaca area? Check your cable access TV station Win-TV this month. Look for Jody Weyers, Volunteer Director and Nick Cluppert, Disaster Services, talking about the Red Cross, volunteer needs and what it is like to be a disaster volunteer.

Or you can Watch now!  Red Cross is the second segment.

Thank you Win-TV for sharing our message on the need for disaster volunteers and our support in the community.

Red Cross offers cleanup kits

FOX 11 – Published : Thursday, 03 May 2012, 2:56 PM CDT

OSHKOSH – The  Northeast Wisconsin Red Cross chapter is offering residents free cleaning supplies. The Red Cross says residents can pick the supplies up at any time during normal business hours.

“We have cleanup kits at our office here on Washburn Street. And individuals can stop on by if they had flooding in their basements, or whatever. And we have bleach and other sorts of cleaning products in these kits that they might need to help with their cleanup process,” said Nick Cluppert, Red Cross.

The Red Cross asks that if you need a kit to call ahead. That number is (920) 231-3590.

State Red Cross volunteers head east to New York to deliver food and beverages, help with disaster

By Charles Davis  Green Bay Press-Gazette

Jerry Prellwitz all ready and heading to help.

Jerry Prellwitz is making the 17-hour drive to Middletown, N.Y., to help people there prepare for Hurricane Irene.

“I don’t know what to expect. I’m hoping to get out there and find not much to do,” said Prellwitz, a volunteer with the  American Red Cross who also provided disaster relief earlier this year after deadly tornadoes hit Mississippi.

Prellwitz, 62, of Green Bay planned to leave Friday in an emergency services vehicle with Neenah-area volunteer David Mooney.

The vehicle mostly is empty, except for cases to carry food and drinks. They expect to be joined on the East Coast today by Red Cross volunteers nationwide, as well as volunteers from Manitowoc and Fond du Lac.

Mooney served in relief in two trips to North Dakota in response to flooding there.

“I guess I just like to help people,” he said, “and the people who are involved are just tremendous. A lot of them have been doing this for years.”

Prellwitz and Mooney expected to be gone for up to three weeks. Although Middletown, N.Y., is the immediate destination, volunteers may be needed elsewhere on the East Coast after Irene passes.

Nick Cluppert, emergency services manager for the American Red Cross of East Central Wisconsin, said Mooney is one of four volunteers from the region headed east in response to the hurricane.

Another Neenah volunteer will travel to Massachusetts and will work on shelter projects.

“The scary part is the path of the hurricane and the number of people it could impact. You’re talking about a very densely populated area,” said Steve Maricque, director of regional operations for the Lakeland Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Maricque said he was notified Thursday by Red Cross headquarters that volunteers were needed from the area.

Jerry Prellwitz, Red Cross volunteer, being interviewed by Charles Davis, Green Bay Press Gazette, Reporter.

In the event of damage, Prellwitz will help set up shelters and drive to areas to provide food and beverages as needed, Maricque said.

Mental health workers could also join the effort to counsel victims, Maricque said.

He advised those in the area to donate blood in anticipation of shortages.

It’s possible Hurricane Irene could drop to a Category 1 storm — with 74 to 95 mph winds — by the time it’s projected to hit the New York area midday Sunday, Tasos Kallas, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Ashwaubenon, said Friday.

“At that point, it would be more of a rain and waves swelling,” Kallas said.

Possible dangers then would shift from wind damage to flooding, he added. and follow him on Twitter @pgcharlesdavis.

American Red Cross Deploys Local Volunteer to Joplin, MO

Joyce Petit, pictured here with John Schorse, has volunteered for the Red Cross for 27 years.

Berlin, WI, May 31, 2011 — American Red Cross volunteer Joyce Petit, of Berlin, will be leaving today at 4:00pm for Jopin, MO to help the people impacted by the devastating tornadoes to hit that area just over one week ago.

Joyce is assigned to go out to assist in client casework. As a client casework volunteer she will be working with individuals impacted by the disaster to determine their immediate emergency needs and provide assistances.

“Client Casework is an important activity for Red Cross,” said Nick Cluppert, Emergency Services Manager, EastCentral WI Chapter. “We provide people with assistance and walk them through the steps as they begin their road to recovery. Joyce Petit is a great volunteer and will no doubt bring lots of experience to this activity on her deployment.”

Joyce has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for 27 years and this is her 12th National Disaster Assignment. She has also assisted for the Terrorist attacks of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Wilma and the 2008 Wisconsin Floods.

Joyce works part-time for Classic Cab, LTD in Berlin,WI.

Since the end of March, the Red Cross has launched 35 large disaster responses across 24 states reeling from the devastation left behind after this spring’s flooding and tornadoes. 

The Red Cross is helping people today and will still be providing assistance in the weeks to come.

Since March 31, American Red Cross has:

  • Served more than 2.3 million meals and snacks.
  • Opened more than 240 shelters and provided 22,000 overnight stays
  • Provided more than 53,000 mental health and health consultations
  • Handed out more than 1.2 million relief items like toothbrushes and shampoo, tarps, coolers, rakes and other clean-up supplies.
  • Deployed more than 10,000 trained disaster relief workers from all 50 states

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, 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 or join our blog at

Local volunteers continue work in South

There are 23 volunteers from NE WI Region

Volunteers from Northeast Wisconsin are still hard at work assisting tornado victims in the south.

Click on the photo to see the video of this story

That severe weather killed hundreds of people and split up families.

But thanks to local Wisconsin Red Cross workers, they are helping to bring people together to get on with their lives.

Slowly yet surely, residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama are picking up the shattered pieces.

More than a week after a devastating tornado as many as 25 people were still unaccounted for.

“Going through Tuscaloosa, the hardest hit area, it looks like a bomb went off in parts of the city and there’s nothing left,” said Nick Cluppert, NE Wisconsin Region Red Cross Emergency Management Services Manager assisting in the South.

Cluppert, from Oshkosh, says there have also been signs of hope. He says the American Red Cross has helped to re-connect more than a thousand people with relatives and friends.

The effort is through the Red Cross, safe and well program.

“We actually had to do a home visit to try to locate somebody and we were able to find them,” Cluppert explained. “The family member that had called looking for this individual wasn’t sure if they were in effected area or not, but they couldn’t get a hold of them, so we were able to locate them and report back they were okay.”

Cluppert is among 23 Red Cross volunteers from Northeast Wisconsin currently assisting in the relief efforts down south.

But as the flooding worsens in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, officials say they’ve had to switch gears for volunteers still looking to help.

“On Friday as well as Saturday, we sent 3 individuals down, all 3 went to Tennessee and a husband and wife couple, they actually drove down our Emergency Response vehicle,” explained Red Cross Lakeland Chapter Communications Director, Jody Weyers.

And the severe spring weather has taken a toll on resources.

Last year, the American Red Cross responded to nearly 30 large disasters between March and June.

However, in the past 39 days, the Red Cross has launched 20 separate relief operations nationwide and those include help from local volunteers.

“You kind of get one under control and then something else happens,” Weyers said. “You send individuals out, but disasters don’t stop in your own community.”

And as the need grows, Weyers expects the volunteers to be gone two to three weeks at a time.

Red Cross volunteers come to the aid of tornado victims

Written by Doug Zellmer  of The Northwestern

Martin Evans surveys the damage to his roof-less house in northeast Raleigh, N.C., on April 19. Cleanup was ongoing as the whole neighborhood was littered with parts of trees and homes damaged in the recent tornado. Eight people from the American Red Cross of East Central Wisconsin, headquartered in Oshkosh, have been dispatched to the tornado-ravaged south for relief efforts. / associated press

Barbara Behling saw destruction in North Carolina that is hard to imagine.

“It was like an erector set gone mad. It was worse than anything I had ever seen,” said Behling, who recently returned from assisting North Carolina tornado victims as a volunteer from the American Red Cross of East Central Wisconsin.

Behling was in North Carolina for about a week as part of an advance public affairs team. She returned to Wisconsin the day before Easter. The twisters struck the southern states about three weeks ago and took the lives of more than 300 people.

“I was amazed at how widespread the damage was. Some gorgeous homes were hit,” Behling said. “There were entire blocks of houses that were like twisted timbers turned into toothpicks. There were splinters everywhere.”

Behling said she helped in the North Carolina cities of Raleigh, Sanford and Fayetteville, the home of Fort Bragg, a massive U.S. Army base.

“Fort Bragg itself had a few trees down. Military personnel and their families that lived off the base took a direct hit,” said Behling, who is regional community development officer for the Red Cross of East Central Wisconsin, which is headquartered in Oshkosh.

She recalled a Red Cross colleague, who told her about a Sanford woman who was in a bathtub when the tornado tossed it 100 yards. Behling said the woman survived to tell her story.

“She was traumatized, but really unhurt,” she said.

Behling had a number of duties, with one being to assist in getting the Tide laundry truck to help those in the tornado ravaged area who had no way to do laundry. She said the tornado had destroyed the Laundromat in Sanford.

“We’re like an Army of goodwill and equipment,” she said. “We worked with people who have nothing. We were cast into a difficult situation where you just wanted to make someone’s life a little easier. Mother Nature took a giant swipe at some beautiful people.”

Eight people from the Red Cross of East Central Wisconsin have been deployed to help tornado victims in the southern states, including retired Oshkosh police chief Jim Thome, who is in Mississippi, and Nick Cluppert, emergency services manager for the agency, who will go to Alabama. Ripon resident Tom Powell spent time helping tornado victims in Mississippi and has returned home.

Thome is deployed as a life safety and asset protection supervisor. It’s an activity that helps to ensure that an area is as safe and secure as is reasonably possible. Thome could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cluppert said he found out Wednesday morning that he’ll go to Alabama, where some of the worst tornado damage occurred. He said his duties will likely include helping family members connect with loved ones who they have not been able to reach.

Cluppert flies today to Birmingham, Ala., for a three week deployment.

“I’m a little bit nervous, but it’s nice to get out and use my training and to bring back experiences that I learn on this deployment so our chapter can be better prepared if something would happen here locally,” Cluppert said.