Local volunteers help prepare for Hurricane Irene


GREEN BAY – Local Red Cross volunteers are headed to the East Coast to help those in the path of Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene is predicted to be the largest storm to hit the East Coast in more than 70 years.

An Emergency Response Vehicle, or ERV, from Green Bay and another from Stevens Point will be leaving this morning.  A volunteer from Manitowoc will be flying out for Rhode Island today to serve as a damage assessment supervisor.

Jerry Prellwitz of Green Bay will drive one of the ERVs along with another volunteer from Neenah.

“I just want to help people,” said Prellwitz. “I just feel this is my way of giving back and if somebody can use my help, I’ll lend it and I’ll give it to them.”

In addition, more than 200 Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles are heading towards the coast to help people in the path of the storm. Dozens of shelters are being prepared all along the East Coast.

“The Red Cross is moving volunteers, vehicles and supplies, getting ready for a response effort that spans nearly the entire East Coast,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “While we’re getting ready at the Red Cross, we want everyone in the storm’s path to get ready as well by getting a disaster kit, making a family emergency plan, and listening to local officials regarding evacuations.”

Irene could affect blood collections along the East Coast at a time when the nation’s blood supply is already low. The Red Cross is urging those who are eligible to give blood prior to the storm’s arrival.

American Red Cross disaster preparedness starts long before a hurricane makes landfall. On average, the Red Cross spends about $450 million on disaster relief every year.

If someone would like to support Red Cross disaster efforts, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

More Red Cross volunteers head south

23 Northeast Wisconsinites currently deployed

Click on the photo to see video of this story.

Flooding of the lower Mississippi River is getting worse, though much of Memphis was spared Tuesday.

Water flooded low-lying areas and submerged some homes.

Officials are cautiously optimistic that levees will hold, preventing widespread damage.

However volunteers, including some from Northeast Wisconsin, are pouring in to assist.

The American Red Cross says it now has 23 people from our area in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

They’re helping with a previous disaster and the current one.

“People losing loved ones or neighbors that they’ve know for ages,” volunteer Joyce Keyes said. “You know they really get to you and you feel a lot of empathy for their loss.”

Keyes is stationed in North Central Alabama, one of the areas hit hardest by tornados in late April.

“The houses are just totally leveled the trees are stripped and broken,” she explained.

Luckily the area she’s in is not dealing with flooding.

As a mental health professional, her focus is on helping disaster victims deal with their emotional wounds.

Steven Maricque, Executive Director of the the Red Cross’s Lakeland Chapter, says people like Keyes are in demand right now.

Two more mental health workers from the area will leave for the South next week.

But, Maricque says all eyes are on Mississippi.

“It’s a fluid situation that develops day to day based on how that water is moving,” he said. “Do we get additional rainfall that might require more people?”

Maricque says the chapter’s emergency response vehicle is in Memphis with volunteers.

But the situation is taxing resources.

“We support and provide relief for over 75,000 disasters a year in this country, but the neighborhood fires the family fires those don’t stop,” Maricque said.

The Red Cross is hoping donations won’t either.

Agency efforts in the Alabama and Mississippi tornados are expected to cost $30 million, and the total is rising with the river in Tennessee.



Crews battle another blaze at complex

Published : Sunday, 13 Mar 2011, 3:27 PM CDT – Click HERE for video of WLUK Fox 11 news story.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay firefighters battled a blaze at an apartment building Sunday for the third time in the past few months.

Crews responded to the fire around 11:30 a.m. at 1413 S. Norwood Avenue. Officials say upon arrival, heavy smoke and flames were showing.

Everyone inside the complex was evacuated by the time crews arrived. Battalion Chief Paul Arvey said the fire was brought under control in approximately 15 minutes. Three units of the 10 unit apartment were heavily damaged by fire.

Land records show the value of the building at $238,600. The cause and origin are under investigation by GBFD Fire Marshals. Several residents were displaced and assisted by Red Cross. No injuries were reported. No damage estimate was available.

Firefighters have been busy lately; Winter typically the busiest time of year

Reporter: Beth Jones, WLUK Fox 11 – Click HERE to view video of the story.

GREEN BAY – Thursday morning’s fire in Pulaski, which displaced a family, was one of four other emergencies The American Red Cross responded to within 24 hours.

Since last month, the Lakeland Chapter has responded to 17 incidents, the majority of them fires, assisting 79 people.

But all four Red Cross chapters across the region have been busy.

“When we look at it since Thanksgiving, we’ve responded to some type of disaster every single day,” explained Red Cross Communications Director, Jody Weyers. “So not only are we out there providing support for the families, but we’re also there as a resource to the emergency crews.”

And it’s been tough to keep up.

“It definitely puts a strain on our resources as well as our personnel and volunteers, as well as financially, with having so many incidents back to back,” Weyers said.

Area fire departments, like Green Bay, have been busy too. They’ve responded to 9 residential fires since Thanksgiving.

“What’s unfortunate, that’s about on average for us,” said Lt. Nick Craig.

While the number may seem excessive, Craig says the department usually responds to about 10 fires at least by the first of the year.

December, January, and February are the busiest three months of the year for fire departments across the nation.

In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says one third of all fires and fire deaths occur during those months.

But there are ways to prevent becoming a statistic.

“We’ve seen several wood stove fires, chimney fires in the area and one of the big things we want people to remember is make sure you have them checked out by a certified chimney sweep to make sure they’re in good working condition before the heating season starts,” Craig explained.

One more thing, check your smoke detectors. Craig says over half of all residential fires they respond to, don’t have working smoke detectors.

The Green Bay Fire Department does offer free smoke alarms to residents who need them.

Marines return home; Months-long deployment in Afghanistan complete

The American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter is proud to be apart of this amazing homecoming in providing food, beverages, games for the children and comfort for the many famlies waiting for their loved ones to return home. Thank you to all the Red Cross volunteers for your support at this event.

Click on the photo to see Fox 11 WLUK News Coverage of this story.

ASHWAUBENON – Strong winds delayed homecoming plans for some northeast Wisconsin Marines, but all who were expected arrived safely at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Ashwaubenon by 9 o’clock Wednesday evening.

No matter what the situation, people generally don’t like to wait.

“I’m antsy, having trouble breathing,” Kathy Willes said as she waited for her daughter.

Lance Cpl. Ashley Willes, 21, left with her Marine Reserve Unit in January, and spent about seven months in Afghanistan.

Smiles were on many faces, mixed with tears, as the Marine Reservists received a warm welcome home.

“Overwhelmed, just so glad to have her home,” Kathy said after giving her daughter a long hug.

“Just pure joy right now. Very overwhelmed with everything,” Lance Cpl. Willes, of Little Chute, said after greeting all her family members.

Willes is back from her first deployment, and looking forward to spending time with her family.

“Was a little rough. Some days seemed pretty long. But overall it went by pretty fast, but we’re all glad to be home,” said Willes.

“It’s great. It’s great. It was a long journey home. It took us about 2 weeks to get from where we were to here we are now,” said Staff Sgt. Dennis VanHemelryk of Suamico.

Here and now the waiting is over for these Marines and their families, and many of them wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Very proud, always,” Kathy Willes said of her daughter.

A total of 45 Marines were deployed. Many of them will be on orders through the end of the year.

Home total loss in Ashwaubenon fire

Two people escaped safely

Updated: Saturday, 09 Oct 2010, 7:33 AM CDT Click HERE for video of the Fox 11 news story.

ASHWAUBENON – An Ashwaubenon home is a total loss after a fire early Saturday morning.

It happened around 1:30 am.

Ashwaubenon Public Safety officials say the fire at 1421 Mohican Court started in a garage and then spread to the home.  Multiple crews were called.

Two adult children were home at the time, but were able to get out safely.

By the time crews arrived on scene the house was fully engulfed, and had started to spread to nearby homes.

Crews say they were able to put out the fire quickly, and no nearby homes suffered major damage.  There’s still no word on the cause.

The American Red Cross Lakeland Chaptet is assisting the family.

Be Red Cross ready: Fire prevention week

Click HERE to view Fox 11 Good Day Wisconsin Video

It’s fire prevention week and the Red Cross wants you to be prepared.

The Tony Gonzalez family in Appleton spent the morning with Good Day Wisconsin, showing people their family escape plan and how you can incorporate this type of plan for your family.