Winter Ice Storms Cover Tennessee; Wisconsinites Respond

Kathy.Schuh.RiesWinter storms differ; yet, how the American Red Cross responds is the same by providing a safe place to stay, food to eat and a shoulder-to-lean. Five Wisconsinites flew south to support 31 shelters opened during the storm. We are honored Kathy Schuh-Ries, a mental health professional, shared her Tennessee Ice Storm deployment experience.

By: Kathy Schuh-Ries, American Red Cross Disaster Responder

On February 25th, I was deployed to Cookeville, Tennessee to assist with the winter ice storms. I arrived in Nashville, and then rode to Cookeville with another disaster volunteer. It was too late to go to headquarters so we checked into our hotel. The next morning we arrived at headquarters to learn that a series of FIVE winter storms have impacted the state of TN in the last two weeks.

The Cumberland Plateau are was hit especially hard with an inch of ice accumulation in some areas leading to downed trees, power lines/poles, etc. causing 100% electrical grid failures in rural counties.

Several shelters were opened in the Cumberland Plateau due to prolonged power outages. More than 30 fatalities had been reported in TN alone due to the winter weather. When I arrived, several thousand customers still were without power in Putnam, Overton, and Cumberland counties.

Most people seeking shelter have had functional needs. As a disaster mental health worker, I assisted in visiting the shelters and working as a liaison with other Red Cross workers. We worked with shelter staff, nurses, and caseworkers to meet the needs of the clients in the shelters and assist them in returning to their homes once the power was restored.

As mentioned earlier, many of the needs were functional. Needs varied from person to person. Some needed assistance in getting medication, others needed assistance from health care assistants, some just needed someone to listen, and share a cup of coffee.

Fallen trees, debris, lack of fuel were common needs.

Mid week, the Noro virus struck several shelters. Effected parties were isolated and the nurses assisted in caring for the sick. Shelters were sanitized and extensive hand washing was encouraged to stem the virus. Parts of our mission included caring for volunteers as well and assist in covering their shelter shifts.

On Sunday, I participated in an Integrated Care Team. The team is comprised of a nurse, a case worker and a mental health worker. We visited the home of a sibling who lost a brother to hypothermia. After meeting with the family, it was determined that assistance was needed for his burial. The Red Cross assisted since his death was directly related to the storm.

As power was restored, shelters were closed and volunteers were sent home.

Final reflection: 

  • I am always moved by the resilience of people impacted by these forces of nature.
  • My life is put back in perspective after deployment.
  • I love the interesting people I meet along the way. The former cook on Air force 1, the retired FBI agent, the 80 year old mother who could run circles around most of us.
  • While not being part of an organized religion, I find these experiences to be spiritual in their own right.

 

 

 

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 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

Red Cross Launches Relief Efforts for Oklahoma Tornado

Responses Ongoing in Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama

From the plains of the Midwest to the deep south, the American Red Cross is providing a safe place to stay and relief supplies for thousands of people displaced by tornadoes and floods. Even as relief operations continue full force in Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama, the Red Cross has opened shelters in Oklahoma after last night’s tornadoes.  

Barbara Behling, looking at the damage and personal belongings left on the curb in Memphis

“These storms have left thousands across the country without homes, without any belongings,” said Barbara Behling, Regional Community Development Office. “It is important that everyone remember those whose lives have been impacted by these disasters as I have seen first hand from my deployment to Nashville and Memphis this past week.”

Multiple tornadoes in Oklahoma destroyed homes and businesses, left thousands without power, and forced road closures due to overturned vehicles and structure damage.  Red Cross workers are providing a safe place to stay, food to eat, toiletries and clean-up items.

On this rainy morning, American Red Cross volunteers Hope Koestner, LPN and Joe Ulrich are delivering medical assistance and mental health services to residents of Nashville. As they walk through this particular neighborhood which was damaged extensively by flood waters, they realize quickly that they need a translator as few residents speak English. Luckily, one of the first doors they knock on is the home of Nancy and Ernesto Gomez and their ten year old son Daniel. Daniel is bi-lingual and is able to help his family by translating their needs. Nancy then offers to have Daniel go around the neighborhood with Hope and Joe as they assist others.

Meanwhile, people down south are still tossing furniture and appliances into the street, ripping up flooring and tearing out walls as they work on their homes after last week’s flooding and tornadoes.  Red Cross teams from 37 different states have shelters open, are providing meals, and distributing various clean-up items and basic necessities such as toiletries. 

Local Volunteer from Green Bay, Hope Koestner, LPN, left on Saturday to assist the people of Nashville and will be gone up to three weeks.

If someone would like to help, there are three ways that people can make a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund: Visit redcross.org to donate online, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

Help people affected by disasters like the recent floods and tornadoes by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for disasters and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting redcross.org.

American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter Volunteer Nurse Heading to Tennessee

Red Cross volunteer Hope Koestner plays with Jalynn Sheppard in a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, LA. - Hurricane Gustav, 9.08

American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter Volunteer, Hope Koestner will be leaving tomorrow morning for Nashville to help people impacted by the flooding in Tennessee.  Hope will be assigned to Disaster Health Services and will be assisting with shelter operations and with local public health officials.

Hope has experience in working large disasters including previous assignments in 2009 for flooding in Georgia and 2008 for Hurricane Gustav, flooding in Iowa and tornados in Georgia.

She is leaving Green Bay on Delta Flight #382 and would be available at terminal for interview at approximately 8:15am.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood supply; 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.