Sudden spring thaw brings flooding, shelters and signs of hope

By Wendy Rociles – American Red Cross

fdl ice jam

Fond du Lac crews worked feverishly March 14 to break up ice jams on rivers caused by an sudden temperature spike.

When Jennifer Pena put her five kids to bed in her Fond du Lac apartment on Wednesday, it was just like any other night. The way they woke up Thursday was anything but.

A sudden spring thaw broke up sometimes car-sized sheets of winter ice along the Fond du Lac River, causing an “ice jam” and river overruns into streets, homes and Pena’s apartment building. Her family awoke to emergency officials on A.T.V.s, pounding on doors and evacuating everyone from the building. Pena’s family, in their pajamas and lugging a box of the essentials, plus a few toys for the kids, were among the dozens of people at an American Red Cross reception center and later a shelter set up in Fond du Lac, one of many such sites set up in Wisconsin during this week’s flooding disasters.

Jennifer and Rosalina at FDL reception center March 2019

Jennifer Pena, right, and her daughter Rosalina Robinson color Thursday at an American Red Cross reception center.

Pena and one of her daughters, Rosalina Robinson, colored Thursday afternoon as the mother talked through the paces that brought her from a normal weekday to emergency sheltering.

“It’s been a long morning,” she said. “Right now, with our house, there’s no way to go back inside.”

As of Saturday, March 16, more than 150 people in Wisconsin received care, sheltering, food and other resources from Red Cross volunteers and staff at shelters or sites including Arcadia, Fond du Lac, Lodi, Prairie du Sac, Green Bay and Stevens Point. After a harsh, protracted winter, spring seemed to come overnight in the Badger State. Even so, Red Cross volunteers were able to set up sheltering with partners, provide support for reception centers and distribute clean up kits to emergency managers.


For the latest on statewide shelters and resources, dial 2-1-1. You can find shelter updates, ways to connect with displaced family members, and safety and preparedness tips by downloading the free American Red Cross emergency app.


 

As people processed their ordeal and what may be ahead in the coming days, Karen Leveque was contemplative about her experience. Like many, she recalled a different round of flooding, more than 10 years ago and along this same river in Fond du Lac.

“I’m doing it all again,” Leveque said.

FDL South and Oak Sts March 2019

South and Oak Streets in Fond du Lac were overrun by the nearby river, displaced dozens of people.

As another family, Lisa and Amanda Frank, were informed that they needed to evacuate their apartments early this same morning, they grabbed important things, like medications and identification. They were also able to grab a few smaller items of sentimental value, just in case they couldn’t get back to the apartment soon.

Keeping her upbeat spirit – hope for the best in the early hours of an unknown weather situation – Lisa pointed to a small, sealed container they were able to carry with them out of the flooded apartment building.

“We even brought our dog (ashes) with us!”

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Volunteers from the Wisconsin Red Cross set up a shelter at partner Community Church on Thursday in Fond du Lac. 

By Saturday evening, just about two dozen people remained displaced at shelters in Fond du Lac, Green Bay and Arcadia. Receding waters enabled the Jennifer Pena’s family to return home, as well as Amanda and Lisa Frank. On Twitter, Amanda Frank wrote: “I also want to thank the @RedCrossWIS and Fond du Lac Community Chuch @ccfdl for all they did to make us feel at home. While I wouldn’t want to experience this again, the experience itself was good. You guys had everything we could have asked and hoped for. #ThankYouGreatly

You can always show your support to the Red Cross in three ways: joining as a volunteer; sharing your financial generosity; and giving the gift of blood.

Historic Wisconsin Flooding; Heroic Red Cross Response

By Amber Finley, American Red Cross

Early morning, on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Southeastern Wisconsin residents woke to rain waters filling their homes. A few days later, Mother Nature struck again; creating flash floods in the Southwestern part of the state, leaving residents and communities devastated with the worst flooding in Wisconsin since 2008. Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergencies for all 17 counties within a week.

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With neighbors looking to begin the clean-up and recovery process, the American Red Cross came in full-force to assist in the efforts.  In all, 10 shelters were opened and neighbors were invited to use the Red Cross facilities to shower, eat a meal, stay overnight, receive minor medical attention and, most of all, a compassionate shoulder to lean on was available 24/7.

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To assist individuals in getting on their feet, more than 2,000 flood victims were provided with clean-ups kits filled with necessary items, such as mops, gloves, bleach, all-purpose cleaners, and masks, to begin the clean-up process. The Red Cross also provided more than 5,500 people with essential bulk items like bottled (canned) water; courtesy of Miller Coors, bug spray donated by SC Johnson, and even a warehouse and forklift from Kwik Trip provided a receiving location for the many trucks arriving from the St. Louis warehouse.

The Red Cross also coordinated with community partners such as the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, WE Energies, Aurora Health Care, and state health services by opening three Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARC). The Red Cross MARC’s provided flood victims with a ‘one-stop shop’ to meet with partnering agencies to secure assistance for their long-term recovery.

For an elderly woman, fighting leukemia, Colleen Manderfeld’s nightmare was true as her sump pump failed and her hobby room was full of murky water. Colleen and her two sons began the cleaning process but were soon over-whelmed. Having seen the Red Cross on television she attended the MARC and asked about what assistance may be available.

WI Floodings - July 2017

Colleen Manderfeld with trained Red Cross Volunteer, Laurel Cooper

Because of her illness, any growth of mold or risk of getting sick can be detrimental to her health. Via collaborative efforts, she received cleaning supplies, bleach, vital information and our community partner Samaritan’s Purse will be visiting Colleen’s home to remove damage from the flooding, as well as thoroughly clean, to eliminate the risk of mold. By having multiple resources available to the flood victims, the road to long-term recovery is shortened. “Colleen had a remarkable sense of personal pride and a positive attitude which she learned from her mother. It takes an even bigger person to ask for help.” shares Amber Finley, a disaster responder. “A hug, a meal, financial support and all the little things we could do to show them it was going to be O.K. was what today was about.”

 

The Red Cross is driven by local volunteers who give of their time, talent and treasure to ensure each disaster victim is supported.

Thousands Look to Red Cross For Shelter from Sandy

People Can Support Response by Giving To Red Cross Disaster Relief

Thousands of people across nine states took refuge from Hurricane Sandy in American Red Cross shelters Sunday night as the massive storm neared the East Coast.

More than 3,200 people spent the night in 112 Red Cross shelters in nine states – New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Massachusetts. The number of people going to shelters is expected to grow as the storm comes ashore.

The Red Cross has deployed more than 1,300 disaster workers to the region from all over the country to help those affected by the storm. As many as 160 emergency vehicles are ready to respond when it is safe to do so, and more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals have been sent into the area.

“Sandy is a large and dangerous storm, and will affect large parts of the eastern part of the country for the next few days, said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. “We urge people to remain in a safe place until it passes, and to listen to instructions from local officials.”

To find a Red Cross shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check their local media outlets.”

People can also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.

BLOOD DRIVES CANCELLED Meanwhile, nearly 100 Red Cross blood drives have already been cancelled due to the storm, and there could be more as the week goes on. This means a loss of as many as 3,200 blood and platelet products. If anyone is eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, they are asked to please schedule a blood donation now.

“Patients will still need blood despite the weather,” said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer of the Red Cross. “To ensure a sufficient national blood supply is available for those in need, both during and after the storm passes, it is critical that those in unaffected areas make an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible.”

 To schedule a blood donation or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them.  Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.

HOW TO HELP  “This will be a large, costly relief response and the Red Cross needs help now,” Shimanski said. “People can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief online, by text or by phone.”

Financial donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit 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 someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC20013.

RED CROSS APPS More than 235,000 people have downloaded the free Red Cross Hurricane App Friday when Sandy began approaching, making it one of the most popular free apps. The app gives up-to-date weather alerts, information on open Red Cross shelters, a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm and a one-touch “I’m Safe” button that lets someone use social media outlets to let family and friends know they are okay.

People have been using the app to find shelters, to set up locations for the app to monitor, to make a disaster plan, and learn what steps they can take to stay safe. The app is available in Spanish just by changing the smart phone setting to Spanish before downloading.

The First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in a person’s hand. Both can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

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 visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Red Cross Launches Huge Tornado Relief Response

Shelters open in 11 states to help people in the path of the storms

The American Red Crosshas launched a large relief operation across 11 states to help people affected by yesterday’s devastating tornado outbreak in the South and Midwest. Weather experts reported as many as 95 confirmed tornadoes touched down, destroying communities from the Great Lakes to the Southeast.

Harrisburg, IL resident, Cindy Fark, receives a hug from a Red Cross Disaster volunteer, Ann Corbin after describing the tornado coming through her neighborhood. Photo Credit: Tammie Pech/American Red Cross

“Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this week’s severe storms,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Disaster Services. “Our top priorities right now are making sure people have a safe place to stay, a warm meal and a shoulder to lean on as they begin to clean up their neighborhoods. The Red Cross is also working closely with our government and community partners to make sure everyone gets the help they need.”Friday night, the Red Cross opened or supported 22 shelters in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Across the affected states, trained Red Cross disaster workers are mobilizing to begin feeding operations and distribution of relief supplies. Red Cross health services and mental health workers also will be out in neighborhoods help people cope with what they’ve seen and experienced. And damage assessment teams will also help the Red Cross and our partners discover the full scope of the damage.

If someone would like to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes and floods, they can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting http://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 their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Locate a shelter. People can find Red Cross shelters by contacting local emergency officials, visiting www.redcross.org, or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). iPhone users can download a free Red Cross shelter view app from the app store.

Those affected can let loved ones know they are safe by registering on the secure Red Cross Safe and Well website, where they can also update their Facebook and Twitter status. If you don’t have computer access, you can also register by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Loved ones outside the disaster area can use Safe and Well to find information about loved ones in the affected areas by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Smart phone users can visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for friends and family” link.

Follow safety steps. As people begin to deal with the aftermath of the tornadoes, the Red Cross reminds people they should return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so. They should also:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings and immediately report any fallen power lines or broken gas lines to the utility companies.
  • Use flashlights, not candles when examining buildings. If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window, get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department.

More tornado safety information is available on the Preparedness Section of the Red Cross website.

You can help people affected by disasters like floods and tornadoes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. 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.

Red Cross Responds To Midwest Tornadoes

Shelters open, Red Cross helping to assess damage.

An overview of the "Water Street" neighborhood that search and rescue workers say many residents were rescued or injured by a tornado, in Harrisburg, Illinois. ( Laurie Skrivan, McClatchy-Tribune / February 29, 2012 )

The American Red Cross is helping people across the Midwest after tornadoes slammed into parts of Kansas and Missouri early this morning, injuring dozens of people, destroying buildings and leaving thousands without power. This is the third time tornadoes have devastated parts of Missouri in less than a year. The storm threat continues today with officials warning severe storms will continue in the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee valleys.

One of the areas affected is Branson, Missouri where officials reported some people were trapped in their homes and buildings in the city’s famous theater district are heavily damaged. In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for the affected areas southwest of Topeka.

Red Cross workers in Missouri have opened shelters  and are providing meals for displaced residents. Additional workers are fanning out in affected neighborhoods to begin assessing the extent of the tornado damage. . In Kansas, tornadoes damaged homes and search and rescue teams are searching for missing residents in the wreckage. Red Cross chapters are preparing to open shelters and are serving meals to those affected as well as emergency responders.

To find an open Red Cross shelter, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). iPhone users can download a free Red Cross shelter view app from the app store.

With the threat of more storms today, residents should be on the watch for tornado warning signs such as dark, greenish clouds, large hail, a roaring noise, a cloud of debris or funnel clouds. It’s a good idea to secure outside items such as lawn furniture or trash cans, which could be picked up by the wind and injure someone. If a tornado watch is issued, it means tornadoes are possible and people should be ready to act quickly. If a tornado warning is issued, it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar and people should go under ground immediately to a basement or storm cellar or to an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.

As residents begin to deal with the aftermath of today’s deadly storms, the Red Cross reminds people to stay out of damaged buildings and immediately report any fallen power lines or broken gas lines to the utility companies. If people are out of their homes, they should return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so. Other safety steps include:

  • People should use flashlights, not candles, when examining buildings. If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window and get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department.
  • Check for injuries. If someone is trained, they should provide first aid until emergency responders arrive.
  • People should listen to their local news or NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.

or more information about how to stay safe if tornadoes threaten someone’s community, people can visit the preparedness section of www.redcross.org.

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.

Red Cross Begins Large Relief Operation

Urges People To Listen To Local Evacuation Orders

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

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles are staging near Raleigh NC before Hurricane Irene's expected landfall. ERV crews stocked up Thursday with bottled water and snacks at a local warehouse store.

The American Red Cross has launched a major relief operation all along the eastern seaboard to help people in the path of Hurricane Irene. More than 13,000 people spent Friday night in hundreds of shelters opened across several states. Many more shelters are set to open throughout the weekend as the storm moves to the north.

 “We are putting the full force of the Red Cross behind our response,” said Gail McGovern, Red Cross President and CEO. People need to listen to local authorities and evacuate if told to do so. Many areas could be inaccessible after the storm and first responders won’t be able to get in right away or offer services. People need to leave when told and plan on caring for their loved ones for at least 72 hours.”

Thousands of Red Cross disaster workers are helping people fromNorth CarolinatoNew England. More than 200 emergency response vehicles have been mobilized, and tens of thousands of prepackaged meals moved into the area. Volunteers from partner organizations like AmeriCorps NCCC and the Southern Baptist Convention are working alongside Red Cross volunteers in some areas.

People trying to find a shelter should listen to their local media for shelter locations near them. They can also locate a shelter at www.redcross.org, or by downloading the free Red Cross shelter app on iTunes. Those affected by the storm can let friends and family know where they are by registering on the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org. They can also call a family member or friend with internet access and ask them to do their registration.

Those heading to shelters should bring extra clothing, pillows, blankets, medications, personal hygiene items and important documents. They should remember special items for children infants such as diapers, formulas and toys, along with necessary items for family members who are elderly or disabled. People should not leave their pets behind, but the Red Cross cannot accept pets in its shelters except for service animals for people with disabilities. People should check if organizations are setting up animal shelters. Red Cross chapters have lists of pet-friendly hotels, kennels, veterinarians and animal welfare agencies that can accept pets during a disaster. It’s important to make sure pets are wearing secure collars with up-to-date identification.

Irene has forced the cancellation of dozens of blood collections along the East Coast. The Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by this storm and asks that people in the affected areas consider donating blood once the storm passes through and it’s safe to do so.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

If someone would like to help, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. They can also send contributions to their local 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.

State Red Cross chapters en route to help with Irene efforts

August 26, 2011: Written by Sarah Kloepping Herald Times Reporter

August 26, 2011 Long Island, New York.American Red Cross Volunteer Saul Linares checks up on Victor Montez,13, and provides him with blankets for his family. The Montez family lives in an area that has been put under mandatory evacuation in Long Island, NY. Among the first shelter inhabitants, Montez helped Red Cross volunteers assemble hundreds of cots as Hurricane Irene draws closer. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross

MANITOWOC — Wisconsin chapters of the American Red Cross will aid victims of Hurricane Irene, which is slated to impact much of the East Coast beginning as early as today.

Red Cross spokesperson Barbara Behling said as of early Friday afternoon, eight trained Red Cross members from northeastern Wisconsin — including Manitowoc resident Rich Davis — were on their way to North Carolina, where the storm is expected to hit first. She said the number of trained volunteers is increasing and she anticipated at least a dozen by today.

“If a terrible storm hits Manitowoc, Wis., people are going to come to help, trained Red Cross volunteers,” she said. “They hug their wives and their kids goodbye and they run to help people in need. It’s the same thing when it happens elsewhere in the country. The goodhearted folks from Wisconsin drop everything and they go to help people in need.”

The Red Cross is planning to send about 600 Red Cross volunteers from across the nation to the East Coast.

“Once we know what the storm actually does, then we will be adjusting our figures,” she said. “If the storm would turn and head east … if Manhattan takes a direct hit, that’s certainly going to affect how we respond.”

Behling said sending area residents to a potential disaster site makes the local community stronger.

“They’re having an experience of setting up a larger shelter, feeding thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of people in a day, the distribution of supplies,” she said. “So it’s really an exercise in preparedness and response. And then our volunteers come back with that talent and knowledge.”

Sarah Kloepping: (920) 686-2105 or skloepping@htrnews.com