Three weeks of flood response. What a great team we have!

Guest Blog Post: Steve Hansen, Regional Chapter Executive – Northeast WI Region

At the Red Cross, our “elevator speech” goes something like this.  The American Red Cross empowers ordinary people to perform extraordinary acts in emergency situations. We train. We mobilize. We connect donors and volunteers to those in urgent need of a helping hand. Whether it is a hurricane or a heart attack; a call for blood or a call for help, the American Red Cross is there.

The past few weeks of severe storms and floods have absolutely confirmed in my mind that our focused effort to share local resources throughout Northeast Wisconsin is working because your American Red Cross was there each and every time we were called for help! And boy, we were called often! You see, this was just the second significant test of our shared resource system since regionalization took hold under our “One Red Cross” transformation nearly three years ago. The first test came during the summer floods of 2008 and I must say our performance improved immensely.  

Of course having a good plan is one thing, but having a good plan is worthless without great people to make it happen.   Here, in Northeast Wisconsin and around the State, we have an unbelievable team of dedicated, compassionate, and competent staff and volunteers committed to serving our communities at the highest level possible!

The Howard family is staying at our shelter at Glenn Hills Middle School. You can read their entire story at http://www.redcrossinsewis.org.

One of many heartwarming examples of Red Cross compassion includes the Howard family who arrived cold and wet at the Milwaukee Glenn Hills Middle School shelter, with only one thing on their minds—staying together. Their wish was fulfilled, as they found cots, warm blankets and caring volunteers.  “It’s been so nice, that we’ve been able to stay together. This was the best place for us,” Mrs. Howard says with a smile. “Reality is setting in. We lost so much, like our baby pictures in the basement. We’ll never get those back. But the most important thing was that we were able to stay together.”

Together, we truly can transform a life in crisis into a life of hope. Thank you volunteers and staff for such a terrific team effort!

Below is a chronological summary of the past three weeks demonstrating how effective we can be by leveraging, utilizing and deploying limited resources across the Region and State.

July 14 – Across the 22-county Northeast Wisconsin Region of the American Red Cross, multiple volunteer disaster action teams were activated or placed on stand-by through a coordinated regional call-down system led by Travis Waack our regional disaster manager in Manitowoc.

Working with our partners in many County Emergency Management offices, we were able to secure the Oshkosh Convention Center as a stand-by emergency overnight shelter and provide Red Cross presence within County Emergency Operations Centers including Nick Cluppert our disaster manager based in Oshkosh who was in the Winnebago County EOC the first night of the big storms.

Pat Schaeve, employee of US Bank, "Ready When the Time Comes" volunteer doing damage assesment door-to-door in Neenah, WI.

July 15 – U.S.Bank, our “Ready When the Time Comes” regional partnership was activated. The program consists of trained bank employees who are released from normal work-day activities to support local disaster relief efforts. Lindsay Geffers, the US Bank facilitator received the call early in the morning and leaped into action. They provided several volunteers that attended a morning briefing, received maps, clean-up kits and were then dispatched along with a more experienced Red Cross disaster workers to comb affected neighborhoods. Lindsay stated, “I never realized how important it was to let the community know they have support and assistance if they need it. It’s amazing to see how people can persevere through disasters – especially those that have flooded before.”

July 17 – Utilizing our regional media database Red Cross communicators Jody Weyers and Barbara Behling were able to stay in constant contact with multiple media outlets providing response updates and useful flood safety information for the public.

July 20 – Judy Gregory our disaster manager based in Green Bay received a call from the Shawno County Emergency Manager requesting Red Cross assistance due to a severe storm and possible tornado impacting the Village of Wittenberg and surrounding area with damage being reported to buildings and homes.  Within a couple of hours 15 volunteers were deployed to Wittenberg including an operations manager, an emergency response vehicle with 2 drivers, 4 health services workers, 1 Shelter manager, 1 Damage assessment supervisor, 6 shelter/mass care workers including a shelter trailer equipped to serve 50 people. This crew was supported by 6 volunteers deployed from our Waupaca office.

July 22 – The disaster volunteer team from Fond du Lac led by Joyce Keyes was placed on stand-by to travel to the Red Cross in Madison to pick up Clean Up Kits to replenish our depleted supply within the region. Ultimately, the team was not deployed as our friends in Madison and Eau Claire stepped up and pulled approximately 350 kits from their shelves and delivered them to Oshkosh and Appleton. John Kost, our disaster manager in Appleton was able to immediately deliver 40 badly needed kits to Black Creek.

July 24 – The Scenic Shores Chapter was called by Calumet County Emergency Management to respond to the Village of Stockbridge. At approximately 4:00 AM, the Village received 4 inches of rain in a very short period of time. The heavy rainfall caused a swiftly moving flash floods to flow through the Village and into Lake Winnebago. Several homes had several inches of water in the primary living space on the first floor. The ECW Chapter delivered Clean Up Kits to Stockbridge and the Scenic Shores Chapter distributed them. The Scenic Shores Chapter also conducted a complete Disaster Assessment, served meals, and distributed bottled water.

Clean-up Kits Being Distributed;Damage Assessment Continues

Lindsay Geffers, a U.S. Bank volunteer via the Ready When the Time Comes program reviews Clean-up kit materials.

Oshkosh, WI…(July 15, 2010) Flood, fire and wind created a whirlwind of activity for local American Red Cross Chapters. Throughout most of Northeast Wisconsin, trained volunteers have been activated to support local relief efforts and to provide immediate emergency needs.

Several Damage Assessment Teams have been going door-to-door in affected neighborhoods. They discuss the storm damage with home owners and/or renters and provide guidance, literature, offer a clean-up kit as well as comfort and hope. 

In addition, U.S.Bank, our “Ready When the Time Comes” partnership was activated. The program consists of trained bank employees who are released from normal work-day activities to support local disaster relief efforts. Lindsay Geffers, the US Bank facilitator received the call early this morning and leapt into action. They provided several volunteers who had been given disaster assessment information previously. They attended the morning briefing, received maps, clean-up kits and more and were then dispatched along with a more experienced Red Cross staff member or volunteer to comb affected neighborhoods, she  “I never realized how important it was to let the community know they have support and assistance if they need it. It’s amazing to see how people can persevere through disasters – especially those that have flooded before.”

Additional clean-up kits with basic cleaning supplies are available at Red Cross offices and via mobile units. If people are in need of assistance, they are encouraged to call their local Red Cross.

All disaster assistance is free as a gift to the American people, from the American people. To financially support local disaster relief efforts, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS or by visiting www.redcross.org.

About:The Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross is a regional grouping of five chapters serving 20 counties with a mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters throughout the East Central Wisconsin, Fond du Lac County, Lakeland, Outagamie and Scenic Shores Chapters. To learn more about Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Northeast region at 920-231-3590 or visit www.NewRedCross.org

 

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.