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Communication

Written by David Haas

Isolated by high water for three days, a dedicated team of five Red Cross volunteers opened and maintained a shelter serving 900 people.  Outside contact was limited to helicopter deliveries. One of the five was an 84-year-old retired nurse with more than 30 deployments on her volunteer resume. “I am too busy thinking about other people, people who have lost everything” she says.

Helicopter

Red Cross volunteers personal belongings onto a national guard helicopter. They will fly to relieve shelter volunteers isolated by the effects of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, NC. Photo credit: American Red Cross

A Red Cross volunteer from Newport NC summed up the hurricane’s effect by stating that, “it looks like someone took a bomb and dropped it” on her hometown. We found the woman helping run a Red Cross blood drive, a higher priority for her than cleaning up the storm damage to her home.

Flying over Elizabethtown North Carolina, a Red Cross volunteer saw “saw a silo and a barn roof sticking through the water, and knew there was a farm below that was surrounded by water.”  Four hundred pounds at a time, he worked with other volunteers to deliver 288,000 lbs. of supplies.

These are just some of the inspiring stories told by the more than 2,350 Red Cross volunteers providing disaster response for Hurricane Florence. More than 70 Eastern PA volunteers and staff deployed as part of the national response and many are still there providing support in the coastal areas of North and South Carolina.

As a public affairs volunteer during the first week following landfall, I witnessed the generous nature of Red Cross volunteers and the communities they support.

For example, one of the 110 Red Cross shelters in North Carolina was located in Chapel Hill.  Housing 340 people at its busiest, the shelter received tremendous community support. This included volunteers reading to children, fire fighters showing off their trucks, boy scouts cleaning cots and the entire championship UNC-Chapel Hill basketball team.  It was hard to tell whether the shelter residents or the Red Cross volunteers were more excited by the visits, but it did wonders for morale in the midst of long days in the shelter.

Basketball

Red Cross volunteers take pictures with members of the championship North Carolina Tarheels basketball team during the team’s visit to a shelter in Chapel Hill. Photo credit: David Haas/American Red Cross

More than 19 non-profit organizations coordinated with the Red Cross during the disaster. Members of the Southern Baptist Crisis Care Team worked in stand-alone kitchens to prepare 6,000 lunches and dinners each day. The meals were delivered by Red Cross volunteers to first responders, residents and survivors of the hurricane.  “The Red Cross and the Southern Baptists represent a unique display of partnership that is working well.”  Said spiritual care provider Kristen Curtis.

Southern Baptist

Red Cross volunteers load meals prepared by Southern Baptist volunteers at a mobile feeding station in Washington, NC. Photo credit: David Haas/American Red Cross

Even American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern participated, spending two days visiting disaster assistance headquarters to listen to the issues faced by volunteers and thank them for their dedicated service. She stayed for a long time at each location until all questions were answered and all selfies were taken.

Gail

American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern speaks with Red Cross volunteers staffing North Carolina District 2 disaster relief headquarters in Greenville NC. Photo credit: David Haas/American Red Cross

We could not reach many areas until the water level on roads receded.  Then I saw firsthand the damage caused by Florence.  Traveling with a small team, we visited a shelter in New Bern, NC to meet with volunteers and determine what additional supplies were needed. En-route, we saw boats lifted onto dry land by the surge, trees ripped up by their roots from the wind, and hundreds of homes whose insulation flooring and furniture were lying in the road, removed because of flood exposure.  We could see the discoloration of water marks halfway up the sides of many buildings.

damage

The contents of historic homes in New Bern, NC are piled in their front yards after being inundated with water during Hurricane Florence. Photo credit: David Haas/American Red Cross

Returning to regional headquarters, we learned of two Red Cross volunteers who left their 12-hour shift and were first on the scene of a serious car accident. A mother was trapped in the driver’s seat and her teenage daughter injured and hanging out of the passenger side window.  Using their Red Cross First Aid/CPR training, one stopped traffic to prevent a secondary collision while the other worked to stabilize the injured until first responders arrived.

Still wearing his Red Cross T-shirt, the volunteer was able to calm the teenager. “What we did seemed natural” he said. “When you see a need, you help.”

Written by Grave Nava

The Red Cross has an app for that! In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, access to information and the ability to connect to loved ones is critically important.  We are reviewing American Red Cross apps that would be most useful in an emergency like Hurricane Florence. Considering there are so many, it’s tough to narrow it down. But in a case like Florence, these apps offer you the tools and preparedness info you need.

Emergency App

This all-inclusive app lets you monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts, to help keep you and your loved ones safe. This latest app from the Red Cross provides information about what to do in case of floods, thunderstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and more. The emergency alerts are available for the user’s location and to monitor where friends and family live. A single map provides open Red Cross shelter locations and weather information.

Emergency users can easily toggle between English and Spanish. Information is included on emergency first aid for situations such as heat-related emergencies and water safety for lakes and beaches. The app also covers what to do in emergencies that affect a large area, such as mudslides and snow storms.

“I’m safe” is another unique feature of the emergency app that allows people to see if loved ones are okay. You can notify friends and family of your condition and location through text message, email, Facebook and Twitter.

Pet First Aid

Our pets are part of our families and getting help for them is crucial in the event of an emergency. However, a veterinary is not always accessible when needed. This app fills the gap until the pet can be taken to the vet.

The main features include:

  • Convenient toggle between cat and dog content.
  • First aid steps for over 25 common pet situations.
  • Step-by-step instructions that include text, illustrations, videos, plus interactive quizzes for easy learning.
  • Storage for veterinary contact info for easy access.
  • A list of common toxic substances.
  • Help to locate the nearest emergency vet hospital or pet-friendly hotels.

A must for every pet lover!

First Aid

This is one of the most recognized American Red Cross apps and puts free and simple lifesaving information at your fingertips.

This app gives instant access to information on how to handle the most common first aid situations, taking critical first aid information normally stored on bookshelves and in pamphlets and places it at the fingertips of millions of individuals – in order to help save lives.

Videos and interactive quizzes are also part of the app. Users who take quizzes can earn badges they can share with friends through social media to show off their lifesaving knowledge.

First Aid App features include:

  • Simple step-by-step instructions for everyday first aid scenarios
  • Prioritized steps to take during an emergency, with a 9-1-1 call button
  • Sharable badges to be unlocked through interactive quizzes
  • Videos and animations to make learning first aid fun and easy
  • Safety and preparedness tips for a range of severe weather
  • Preloaded content that gives instant access to all safety information at any time.

The content is available in English and in Spanish. Downloading the app is not a substitute for first aid training but instead can be used in conjunction with training.

Hero Care

Can you imagine being away from your loved ones serving in the Armed Forces without being able to get hold of them? The American Red Cross has the solution: Hero Care. This is a free app designed to keep current members and veterans of the Armed Forces in touch with their family members. It allows emergency and non-emergency communication to reach either side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. The current version allows for only one service member, but additional members can be added over the phone 24/7/365 by calling the Hero Care Center at 877-272-7337. In addition to being a great tool to stay in touch with loved ones, it also provides useful information such as behavioral health assistance, local organizations serving veterans and active duty service men and women, and other valuable resources. The app is available in English and Spanish.

Download any of the FREE Red Cross Mobile Apps today, in the Apple App Store or in Google Play.

 

When the unspeakable happened on September 11th, 2001, the Red Cross was there in the immediate aftermath, and the years to follow. Immediately, the Red Cross:

  • Activated 6,000 Red Cross volunteers
  • Opened 13 Red Cross shelter
  • Sent Disaster Mental Health workers to shelters, crash sites, airports and hospitals
  • Set up a mental health hotline
  • Opened Respite Centers for firefighters, police officers, port authority workers and others
  • Received 1 million calls on the Blood Donation line (the previous record in one day was 3,000 calls)
  • Every chapter in the nation supported stranded passengers at airports as air space was shut down
  • Launched the Family Registration Web, a predecessor to today’s redcross.org/safeandwell
  • Sent teams of Red Cross workers door-to-door in the Restricted Zone for families who had chosen to stay
  • After one year, the Red Cross had served 14 million meals for disaster workers and victims, mental health services for more than 237,000 people, and health services for 131,000 people.
  • And much  more.

The Greater New York Red Cross has put together a YouTube playlist of Red Crossers remembering that day, including this video about all the spontaneous volunteers who showed up to help out where they could:

Remembering the Red Cross Response to 9/11

Written by Bryan Myers

Flooding has been a major concern throughout Pennsylvania this summer, especially in the Central and Eastern parts of the state. After several rounds of thunderstorm on August 13th, communities began to flood and houses became inundated with water. Montgomery County’s Department of Public Safety reported that the Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed between Valley Forge and Norristown. The Schuylkill Expressway and PA Turnpike were also shut down due to flooding in the county. Portions of Berks, Delaware, Lackawanna, Schuylkill, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties were particularly hard hit.

The Red Cross responded to the historic flooding in Delaware County by opening an evacuation center at the Darby Recreation Center for flood victims. Throughout the region, dozens of people fled the floodwaters into Red Cross shelters, which were opened in coordination with community partners.

shleter

As water levels receded, the Red Cross focus shifted to distributing emergency supplies, serving meals and working one on one with affected families.  In the first week alone, Red Cross volunteers served more than 2,100 meals and snacks and distributed hundreds of clean up kits and other flood related supplies.

Five emergency response vehicles were deployed to the hardest-hit areas where volunteers could hand out food and emergency supplies door to door. Disaster Assessment teams were sent out to traverse neighborhoods while caseworkers went door to door to talk with affected families, providing more than 75 of them with assistance.

flooding

To be prepared for flood emergencies, the Red Cross recommends assembling an emergency preparedness kit and creating a household evacuation plan. You should ensure that you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts and keep insurance policies in a safe-deposit box or with pictures on a flash drive. Remember to take precautionary measures for your pets by downloading the Red Cross Pet First Aid app.

Home protections might include raising your water heater or electric panels to higher floors, the addition of flood barriers around your house and waterproofing the walls in your basement. Check with your local municipality about the availability of sandbags prior to a flood watch or warning.

You can read more about flood safety from the Red Cross by visiting the Red Cross Flood Safety website. Stay up to date with the latest alerts with the Red Cross Emergency App for iPhone or Android.

Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management offers flood safety awareness with an outline of flooding hazards. At the state and federal level, a Pennsylvania Flooding Recovery Guide is also available.

Written by Sam Antenucci

Imagine yourself in a disaster without power or internet. Finding out vital information would be next to impossible.  However, amateur radio – ‘Ham’ as its more commonly called—is a popular hobby that doubles as a way to send disaster messages without the need for internet. During a disaster when internet and power can go down, Ham radio acts as a lifeline in times of need.

Seeing the potential of Ham Radios in disaster scenarios, John Weaver, a Red Cross Disaster and Mental Health volunteer, has been advocating and pushing for more awareness of Ham radios and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) field day. Weaver says that “Field day is a chance to reach out to the community, practice for emergencies, enjoy informal contests, and most of all have fun!”

john Weaver

John (left) , Al (center) and Sean (right) from the Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Buck Chapter visited the 2018 Field Day sites. Using the Ham radio, they simulated emergency communication to an ARC volunteer in Texas.

With more than 40,000 attendees including Red Cross volunteers, the ARRL field day is easily the largest gathering of radio amateurs in the United States. During the ARRL field day, enthusiasts set up transmission stations throughout the Nation to showcase the service opportunities that the radios hold.

Ham radios work on a variety of frequencies for communications and can be set up anywhere in the world. Both Ham and non-Ham users can tune into their own receivers or radio scanners to listen to the broadcasts. Ham users utilize many frequency bands across the radio spectrum that have been given to them by the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) for amateur use.

Ham radios have often been utilized in the past by those wishing to aid in disaster services. For example, Amateur Radio Services helped New York City agencies keep in contact with one another during the 9/11 tragedy. Ham radio has also aided in rescues during Hurricane Katrina and helped in the disastrous flooding in Colorado in 2013.

radio

Volunteers participate in Ham Radio training at the 2018 Red Cross Disaster Institute

If Ham radios are something you might want to get involved with, you need to acquire an Amateur Radio license from the FCC and your own equipment. The Red Cross offers Ham training and encourages you to participate in the 2019 ARRL field day on June 22nd and 23rd . Save the date and we’ll see you there!

guy

The American Red Cross has named Guy Triano CEO of the Eastern Pennsylvania Region. The Bucks County resident is no stranger to the Red Cross. Triano has been with the non-profit organization for over 14 years, all in the biomedical field. He first joined the Red Cross as an account manager for Atlantic and Cape May counties. Most recently he served as Director of Donor Recruitment for the Pennsylvania-New Jersey and the New York-Pennsylvania blood regions where he was responsible for collecting 550,000 units of blood annually. He was named Director of the Year in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

“I’m proud to be a part of the American Red Cross because it is an organization that helps so many people in so many different ways,” said Triano. “After spending most of my time focusing on the collection of lifesaving blood, I’m excited to also be helping the organization’s many humanitarian services.”

Guy lives with his wife and two boys in Bucks County. Guy is also very involved with coaching both of his sons’ baseball teams and sits on the Board for Neshaminy Kids Club.

Triano now oversees the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region, which includes more than 6.5 million people in 17 counties from Philadelphia north to the New York border.

In an average year the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region:

  • Responds to more than 1,000 local disasters
  • Provides direct disaster assistance to more than 5,000 people
  • Installs approximately 10,000 free lifesaving smoke alarms
  • Trains nearly 100,000 people in first aid, CPR and other lifesaving skills
  • Provides almost 5,000 services for military members, veterans and their families
  • Trains approximately 8,000 students in disaster preparedness through The Pillowcase Project
  • Collects more than 150,000 blood donations

The Eastern Pennsylvania Region also operates the Red Cross House in Philadelphia, the only-of-its-kind Red Cross Center for Disaster Recovery in the United States.

 

Hurricane Maria 2017

Barceloneta, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Red Cross volunteers distribute water, food and other basic necessities to families affected by Hurricane Maria. Photo by Sergio Rojas for The American Red Cross

As the year nears the peak of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the American Red Cross and its partners are ready. We are gearing up for the height, while hoping it will not be as active as last year.

2017 was marked by historic hurricanes, wildfires and other crises, the American Red Cross was there for a record number of people whose lives were upended by major events.  Last fall was unprecedented in terms of the scope and scale of our mission delivery.  We provided food, water, reconnected families, and mobilized thousands of relief supplies, including comfort kits, blankets and cleanup kits to help rebuild lives.  Everything we do depends on the needs of the people that we serve and we could not be there without the generous support of our partners.  Thank you for bringing hope to those in need.

  • Toll Brothers
  • SKF USA
  • Duane Morris
  • PJM Interconnection
  • Vanguard
  • Tanner Industries
  • Ametek Foundation
  • Bentley Systems
  • Dietz & Watson