Safe and Well – Helping to Reconnect Families and Loved Ones

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After a disaster, like the recent tornadoes we have seen, letting your family and friends know that you are safe and well can bring your loved ones great peace of mind. This website is designed to help make that communication easier.  

About Safe and Well 

When disasters strike, loved ones can become separated. If you have been affected by a disaster, you can register yourself on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website.

Family and friends can search the list of  those who have registered themselves. A successful search will bring up a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message.

“Safe & Well is a simple and easy tool that everyone needs to be aware of.  When disasters strike our normal ways of communicating with each other may be disrupted.  Individuals can register themselves on the website, or Red Cross can do it for them, and family members can search to see if their loved one is okay after the disaster,” said Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager.  

“When I deployed with Red Cross to Alabama in 2011 for tornadoes, and to Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey I saw first-hand how people became disconnected, and the Safe & Well website helped to bring those people back together.”

Always Available

Safe and Well is always available. Access to the Website is made available at shelters, service delivery sites and many partner agency locations. During large-scale disasters, when Internet and phone lines may be compromised, trained volunteers can help you register using a paper form.

Privacy

Your privacy is preserved. No specific location or contact information is displayed unless you choose to do so in your custom message. People will need to know your name and address or phone number in order to see your post.

Integration with Social Media

Do you use Facebook or Twitter? After registering, you can click on these icons to post your selected messages right on your Facebook or Twitter page. And your loved ones won’t need to remember any logins or passwords to see that you are safe

For more information or to search for a loved one go to: redcross.org/safeandwell  

Thanks to Great Partners Red Cross is Prepared

May 29, 2012 to support Wisconsin and Michigan bordering communities relief efforts, American Red Cross Chapters throughout Wisconsin received 11 Briggs & Stratton generators and 13 pressure washers as part of a large donation to support the organization preparedness and response to disasters and emergencies.

Briggs & Stratton donated generator being used to power our Appleton Red Cross office.

Briggs & Stratton donated generator being used to power our Appleton Red Cross office.

Today we are putting that donation to good use. The American Red Cross is not immune from disasters. Our Appleton office, located at 1302 E. Wisconsin Ave, was impacted by the Northeast Storms and lost power early this morning and is currently still without power at 1:00pm today.

Staging area at the Appleton office for our feeding operation.

Staging area at the Appleton office for our feeding operation.

Thanks to the generosity of Briggs & Stratton we are able to power our Appleton office by generator so we are able to use this facility as a central hub in coordinating our disaster efforts across Northeast Wisconsin. This storm is very wide spread including the cities of Manitowoc, De Pere, Green Leaf, Wrightstown, Appleton, New London, Freedom, Hortonville and many other communities. Having a functional central office location is critical in being able to respond to the needs of those impacted.

The Briggs & Stratton gift is not only helping Wisconsin and the Michigan boarder communities be prepared but also across our nation.

The donation by Briggs & Stratton included 847 generators and 483 pressure washers to Red Cross chapters in disaster-prone locations across the United States and Puerto Rico. The generators can supply power at disaster shelters and service centers during relief operations and even power devices within our chapter’s offices. The pressure washers will ensure a high level of cleanliness for washing cots, food containers and other cleaning projects.

You can read the full story of the Briggs & Stratton donation by clicking  HERE .

My Power is Out…..

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer & Communications Director

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Roughly 64,000 people were without power as they woke up this morning in Northeast Wisconsin. I was one of the lucky ones that still had my power. As I got the call this morning at 3:30 am, from Judy Gregory, our emergency services director, I was able to monitor news stories on the internet, make my coffee, and have a quick piece of toast before I ran out the door to head to one of the badly damaged areas, Apple Creek Campgrounds, in Wrightstown.

While I was there surveying the damage of downed trees, and debris strewn about and standing with report, Millaine Wells, WFRV-TV, waiting for our live shot, she asked me, “Just how long is food good for in your refrigerator and freezer during a power outage?” She went on to tell me that where she lived, she did not have power this am, and still did not know if she did at 6:30 am today.

I was slightly embarrassed to say, I did not know the answer, but I did look it up in online once I got back to my office in Green Bay (we did have power) and if I don’t know I am many of those 64,000 people do not know either?

Food Safety Tips:

Perishable foods including milk, meat and eggs should not be stored above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. If a power outage is 2 hours or less, you don’t need to be concerned, but you should know how to save your food when the refrigerator is out for longer periods of time. Being prepared can help. By planning ahead, you can save your perishables and safeguard your family’s health.

Go to: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/food-safety for additional food safety tips. Now you and I both know!

Remember, if you or a family member was impacted and displaced from the storm, to contact your local Red Cross at 920-468-8535 to see where we might have shelters open, or to receive emergency assistance.

Emergency Social Data: Alabama in Need

This guest post was written by Jeffrey Biggs from Dothan, Alabama and posted on the National Red Cross Blog. I had the pleasure of working with Jeffrey on my first national deployment in September of 2008 to Houston,TX for Hurricane Ike. In the Spring of 2008 he was deployed to Southern Wisconsin to assist in public affairs for the floods. Thank you Jeffrey for sharing your knowledge and in site on this changing world of communication during disasters. – Jody Weyers, Northeast Wisconsin Regional Volunteer and communications Director

Jody Weyers and Jeffery Biggs on deployment in Houston, TX.

 You’re sitting at home and feeling a bit helpless. All you see on the television is destruction taking place right before your eyes. You flip on your computer and you see the same thing. The local radio stations have quit playing your favorite tunes. Instead, they are interrupting normal programming to bring you the latest on the devastation taking place 200 miles to the northwest. Again, you feel like you can’t do anything but watch. You have friends and family directly in the path – and you’re in pain because you can’t help. No, I’m not reliving the events of September 11, 2001. I’m reliving the events of April 27, 2011.

April 27 was the day a horrific deadly tornado ripped a jagged scar across the state of Alabama from the Mississippi line on into Georgia and up into South Carolina. And I was sitting at work, and later at home, watching the events unfold on television and online. Concerned for my family and friends in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Gadsden. Wondering aloud to my co-workers, “What can we do?”

And that’s when I started communicating – or at least attempting to. I immediately called my cousin in Birmingham to check on them. No answer. Of course not, cell phone towers were probably down. So I sat and waited for a bit. Then, my phone rang. My cousin, his wife, and their daughter were ok. My aunt and uncle – ok. My other cousins, ok. Relief was starting to creep in. But then, my cousin’s wife said one thing, “What’s going on? We know a tornado just went through, but we can’t really communicate with anyone. We don’t know what’s happening or if anything else is coming.”

And that’s when I knew I had a job to do. I could be the eyes and ears of those who were in the path of the dangerous storms. I had access to the weather in Birmingham. I could watch the news from Birmingham. I could lend a hand. And that’s what I did. I relayed information to friends and family in the Birmingham metro area from my house just outside of Dothan. And I posted it on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media. Spreading information – accurate information – was vital in this time of crisis.

And then, an interesting thing happened. I got a Facebook message from my good friends in Washington DC regarding the weather north of me, and one very simple question, “Are you able to help?” Of course, my answer was “YES! Let me help those in my own backyard, please.”

And that’s when a unique experiment in social media communication began. As the majority of the world was fixated on events taking place across the Atlantic Ocean in London’s Westminster Abbey, the American Red Cross was focusing its energy on helping those throughout the southeastern United States who had just been impacted by the biggest natural disaster to heat the area since Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. Because the destruction was so widespread and the infrastructure in many areas so heavily damaged, it wasn’t feasible for everyone to travel to an area affected. Thanks to the advances of technology and the explosive growth of social media, someone had to monitor what was being said. Someone had to help spread real, vital, potentially life-saving information to those around the globe – and most importantly, in the disaster zone – who were transfixed on the events in my backyard.

 I could be that person. I have high-speed Internet at my house. I have access to television stations from Montgomery to Panama City, Fla., and thanks to that same high speed Internet, I have access to television and radio from the affected areas. And then, there was the little matter that I am a “power” Facebooker and adept Twitter user. I could monitor the action, stay in communication with the Red Cross workers in the field and in Washington DC, and help guide people to the right places at the right time.

You see, the little experiment turned out to be remotely harnessing the power of social media to actively lend a hand to those needing it most in the disaster zone. And it was a tremendous success. I was able to monitor the action in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and other areas of the state and find out what was being said – and by whom. If wrong information was out there, I had the resources to correct it. If people were in need in a certain area and had not seen Red Cross assistance, I was able to help guide either the person to the Red Cross, or more importantly, the Red Cross workers to the people who needed them most.

During the course of events, we even discovered someone making false accusations and misguided directions to individuals in need. Because of the speed of social media, we (and I mean we in the term of American Red Cross disaster relief workers) were able to right a wrong. And most importantly, during the flow of events, we were able to bring a little bit of comfort to those hurting so greatly.

Yes, it was an unconventional way to bring assistance to those hurting – and let’s face it, not everyone had the luxury of sitting in their living room during such a brutal ordeal – but it worked. It was a grand experiment that proved the power of social media and its ability to be that vital link between those hurting and those who are willing and able to help. Having worked with the Red Cross in disaster zones and utilizing social media in the field, it was interesting to see how it could work remotely. And it worked. It continues to work. And the power of social media continues to work in Alabama. A group of citizens have rallied together to harness the power of social media and our state’s intense football rivalry between The University of Alabama and Auburn University by creating Toomers for Tuscaloosa on Facebook – a site that continues to harness Facebook’s power and lend a hand throughout Tide and Tigerland.

Thank you Time Warner Cable for Your Support of the WI Tornadoes

(l-r) Robin Long, Deanna Hau, Steve Hansen, Sue Miller and Shannon Johnson

Time Warner Cable team members rallied support for the American Red Cross immediately after the Sunday, April10th tornadoes and severe storms. Not only were their customers affected, many of their team members were as well.

During the check presentation, Robin Long, Deanna Hau, Sue Miller and Shannon Johnson shared their storm stories with Steve Hansen, Regional Chapter Executive. For some, part of the homes were damaged, a few building destroyed and many trees were toppled. They all breathed a collective sigh of relief when their neighboring TannerSchool was not damaged.

The Red Cross would like to thank Time Warner for being part of the early warnings, which recommended people take cover. The best news of all is that no one was seriously injured during the storms! Time Warner has also produced an American Red Cross public service announcement encouraging local support for their disaster relief efforts. Stay tuned!

Red Cross Volunteers Looking for Relief

By Sarah Thomsen, WBAY – Click HERE for video of story:

As the recent storms continue to pelt Northeast Wisconsin, it’s putting a strain on a group of volunteers that’s always there as soon as the severe weather passes.

Since June 15th we’ve seen flooding from Fond du Lac to Black Creek to Green Bay and wind damage and hail from Crivitz to Appleton.

And after each of these storms, American Red Cross volunteers were called to action.

“In the past two weeks we’ve had 70 volunteers that participated in helping people in need,” Steve Maricque, executive director of the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter said.

Volunteers don’t abandon one area when severe weather hits somewhere else.

There were still crews in Wittenberg Wednesday after Tuesday’s damaging winds, and the flooding problems in Black Creek and the Fox Valley haven’t disappeared, either.

All these storms are stretching volunteers thin.

“It is a strain on them because of the amount of time and effort that goes into it, so we’re always looking for good people that want to help, that want to be trained,” Maricque said.

Not only does the local Red Cross chapter need volunteers, it also needs donations to help replenish the supplies they’re going through so quickly.

“We provide a mop, broom, a squeegee to move water around.”

With flooding the biggest problem this summer, volunteers are going through a lot of clean-up kits.

“Just in the last two weeks we’ve gone through 128 clean-up kits, so we’ve got additional supplies that are ready in anticipation of rain that’s going to be coming again tomorrow.”