Fox Cities residents lend a hand in the Gulf

By Jim Collar:  jcollar@postcrescent.com

Disaster workers travel south to provide aid to hurricane victims

Neenah resident Harvey Lorenz arrived at an American Red Cross staging area in East Texas on Thursday ready to assess the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

As the weakened and slow-moving storm soaked the Gulf Coast, Lorenz awaited word on when he’d put his training to use.

“I have no idea yet,” Lorenz, 72, said Thursday afternoon.

Lorenz is among 15 Red Cross disaster workers from northeast Wisconsin sent to the Gulf Coast to provide aid for victims of Hurricane Isaac. The hurricane made landfall late Tuesday and has caused significant flooding in coastal areas of Mississippi and Louisiana.

The Red Cross has deployed more than 2,700 trained disaster workers from across the country to offer aid in the Gulf region.

In the Fox Valley, Barbara Pilon of Neenah left for Texas on Wednesday to serve on a team coordinating the distribution of clean-up gear and Kathleen Brockman of Freedom headed to the Gulf Coast to help with health services. Dennis Nagan of Appleton drove the local chapter’s emergency response vehicle south and began distributing food, water and other supplies Thursday.

Barbara Behling, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in Northeast Wisconsin, expects volunteers will be in the region for quite awhile.

Though Isaac didn’t carry the strength of Katrina seven years ago, Behling said, “this is going to be a long-term recovery effort for many of the people who live in that area.”

The first workers from northeast Wisconsin left for Florida a week ago thinking the Tampa area would suffer the brunt of the storm.

“No one can truly predict what Mother Nature is going to do,” Behling said.

Hurricane Isaac marks the 10th deployment for Lorenz, the Neenah resident who flew into Houston on Wednesday and traveled on Thursday to the Red Cross staging area in Orange, Texas, near the Louisiana border. His first deployment was in response to Hurricane Katrina, after which he worked as a case worker assisting evacuees in Tupelo, Miss.

His latest deployment has been “relatively chaotic,” said Lorenz, who spent Wednesday night on a cot in a church with 110 people. But he is happy to help bring comfort to disaster victims.

“I get a lot out of being able to help somebody,” Lorenz said. “It’s a meaningful experience to see your challenge, be put to use and see the results of the work being done.”

Massive Red Cross Response to Isaac Underway Along Gulf Coast Public’s Help Needed For Costly Relief Operation

The American Red Cross has a massive relief response underway along the Gulf Coast where Isaac’s strong winds and relentless rain are continuing to leave flooded homes and thousands of evacuees in its wake.

Overnight more than 4,700 people stayed in as many as 80 Red Cross or community shelters in seven states. More people may need shelter today as evacuations continue. In addition to staffing shelters, the more than 3,000 Red Cross disaster workers have already served more than 22,000 meals and snacks.

“We need the public’s help,” reported Charley Shimanski, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “We expect to be in the Gulf Coast region for weeks helping people recover from Isaac, even as we are still helping people out west affected by wildfires. It’s been a busy summer and our costs are growing by the hour. People can help by donating today.”

People can click or text to donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

MORE HELP ON THE WAY While focusing on providing emergency sheltering and feeding, the Red Cross is also starting to move more volunteers, equipment and relief supplies into communities as the storm exits.

“Before the storm struck, we put workers, equipment, vehicles and trailers full of supplies just outside the impact area,” Shimanski said. “As the storm moves out of some communities, we’re starting to move assistance in and we’ll be providing people with food, water and relief supplies in the days ahead.”

The Red Cross sent 311,000 ready-to-eat meals to the area, and the Southern Baptist Convention has mobile kitchens capable of producing thousands of meals a day prepositioned to serve cooked meals when it is safe to do so. Other community partners assisting along the Gulf include AmeriCorps, Islamic Relief USA, NAACP and the National Baptist Convention USA, helping with things like sheltering, feeding, driving disaster vehicles and logistics.

STAYING SAFE People along the Gulf Coast should follow instructions from officials on when to evacuate and when it’s safe to return home. They can let loved ones know they are safe by either downloading the Red Cross Hurricane App and using the “I’m Safe” button to post a message to their social media accounts, or registering on the Red Cross Safe and Well website.

 The hurricane app can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. It also provides important safety information and a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. The Safe and Well website is secure and people can register by visiting  www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.

 

Blood Drive Donors Become Bone Marrow Donors

By Sarah Thomsen – bio | email - WBAY – click HERE for video of story.

Hundreds of people rolled up their sleeves and donated blood at the Packers training camp blood drive Wednesday. Many of them also became bone marrow donors at the same time.

Mary Homel and Phil Enderby don’t know each other but Wednesday they had one thing in common: They both signed up to save a life.

“It just seemed like something that was easy to do and could possibly go a long way for someone else,” Enderby said.

With just the swab of a cheek, both officially became bone marrow donors.

“Because I have family member that have cancer and I have a couple relatives that  died of cancer,” Homel said, “so I figure it’s for a good cause, and if anybody else  needs it, I’m there.”

It was the first time in our area the American Red Cross held a bone marrow registration drive in conjunction with a blood drive.

It’s teaming up with the non-profit DKMS Americas to add donors to the National Bone Marrow Registry.

“We’ve had volunteers trained to talk to people about who you benefit, leukemia patients and people with other blood diseases. So it just  seems like a fitting pair to do both today,” Bobbi Snethen, Red Cross communications program manager, said.

A big push to become a donor started when Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts announced she needed a bone marrow transplant.

Action 2 News has also profiled two children in our area, Mira Erdmann and Charlie Knuth, who each needed life-saving bone marrow transplants.

The idea for this drive started with a passionate family.

“We actually encountered a mother who is a huge advocate, and her son had passed away from leukemia and she was talking about the need to get people on the registry,” Snethen said.

Since it’s the first time, the Red Cross doesn’t know what to expect but says it was pleased with the steady line of people becoming donors.

“I think it’s important to give back, and it’s something I feel like a lot of people could do, and now I’m one of those people,” Enderby said.

Red Cross Helps Anxious Gulf Residents as Isaac Looms

Uncertainty resurfaces for people along Gulf Coast with Katrina anniversary

With Isaac poised to make landfall in the same areas of the Gulf Coast struck by Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, the American Red Cross has a series of tips for families and individuals in the region that may experience anxiety about the storm and anniversary.

“The combination of the approaching storm and Katrina anniversary will likely cause increased fear and unease for residents in New Orleans and along coastal communities as people relive difficult emotions,” said Rob Yin, manager of disaster mental health, American Red Cross. “It’s important that people remember to take care of themselves and make appropriate disaster preparations to stay safe which can also help to reduce stress. Don’t forget to reach out to others to offer or get help if you need it.”

Across multiple states along the Gulf, the Red Cross has launched a large disaster response as Isaac affects millions of lives with strong winds, heavy rain, flooding and coastal surges. Last night, nearly 800 people found a safe haven in 52 shelters open in five states. In addition, the Red Cross has mobilized 2,400 disaster workers, prepositioned 290,000 ready-to-eat meals and activated 187 emergency response vehicles from across the country to help. The Red Cross is also coordinating with multiple partners including a variety of civic groups, advocacy organizations, professional organizations and houses of worship to share their expertise and volunteers.

The Red Cross recommends that people be mindful that community members and disaster workers could experience anniversary reactions now or in the near future. Reactions can range from a mild upset for a day or two, to a stronger version with anxiety or depression. Most people will feel better within a week or two after the anniversary date as stress responses usually become less frequent and less severe over time.

Anniversary reactions could include:

  • Experiencing similar feelings and thoughts that occurred during the event like sadness, fearfulness or uncertainty;
  • Feeling the need to avoid events, places or people that are connected to the anniversary; 
  • Feeling nervous, on edge, jumpy or quick to anger;
  • Difficulty sleeping, focusing or concentrating; 
  • Experiencing fatigue, pain, headaches or stomachaches; and

The following actions can help families and individuals cope with anniversary stress reactions:

  • Stay informed and be prepared. If in the potential path of an approaching storm, pay attention to information and warnings from local authorities.
  • Make sure your disaster kit and plans are complete. Being prepared for storms can reduce stress;
  • Eat healthy. During times of stress it is important to maintain a balanced diet and drink plenty of water;
  • Get some rest. Giving your mind and body a break can help you cope with stress;
  • Stay connected with family and friends. Giving and receiving support is one of the most important things you can do;
  • Be patient with yourself and those around you. Recognize that people may need time to put their feelings and thoughts in order;
  • Stay positive. Remind yourself how you’ve successfully coped with stress in the past. Reach out when you need support, and help others when they need it.
  • Reach out to a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health or community mental health professional for support, if the actions above don’t help or to get more support. You can also contact the 24 hour National Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.

Isaac is predicted to trigger a large and prolonged disaster response with major flooding across several states. People can call, click or text to donate by visiting http://www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Emergency Response Vehicle Sent to Gulf Coast

By: Kris Schuller:  wearegreenbay.com – Click HERE for video of story.

GREEN BAY, WI (WFRV)  Wisconsin workers and volunteers are already heading south to help with storm damage from Tropical Storm Isaac.

The American Red Cross is busy  preparing  its response to the damage Isaac is expected to bring to the northern gulf coast. Fifteen-hundred disaster workers have been deployed to the area, ten of which are from Northeast Wisconsin. Monday evening – one of those volunteers left Green Bay, on a 16-hour drive to New Orleans.

As Tropical Storm Isaac races  toward the northern gulf coast, slowly growing in intensity, Dennis Nagan prepares for a 1-thousand mile trip, to deliver an emergency response vehicle, for use at  shelters in New Orleans.

“I’m  nervous, excited, got the call this morning, ” said Nagan. “It happened fast and we’re getting ready to go.”

So far Isaac has brought heavy rain, power outages and flooding to Florida. But with storm surges expected to reach 12-feet along the northern gulf coastline, many more may find themselves displaced. The mission of the vehicle is to aid in the distribution of food to disaster victims.

“We can take it to areas affected, so as people clean their homes they can get a little comfort, said Jody Weyers of the Lakeland Chapter of the American Red Cross in Green Bay.

The  emergency response vehicle is one of 150 such vehicles, owned by the National Red Cross and stored at local chapters across the country. With Tropical Storm Isaac expected to intensify in the coming days, a call came in from the national office this afternoon – requesting this vehicle be sent a.s.a.p.

“You are right out in front with people who really need the food, goods and supplies the Red Cross provides and I take it seriously, it’s an honor to do it.” said Nagan.

With 42 shelters currently in operation in Florida and evacuations ordered in low lying areas of Louisiana, the Red Cross expects more shelters will be opening soon. And by early tomorrow Nagan will be in the middle of it all, driving a vehicle which brings hope, by helping feed the hungry.

“Hopefully we won’t be needed, But if so, we’ll be there.”

Depending on the damage suffered, Nagan could be away from his family in Appleton for up to three weeks.

Two Great Organization Coming Together to Save Lives!

Click HERE for event information:

American Red Cross Opening Shelters in Florida as Isaac Moves North

People in Other Gulf Coast States Urged to Prepare for Storm

KEY WEST, Fl. — August 26, 2012 — A man braves 50 mile-per-hour winds as the significant storm Isaac approaches the coast of Key West. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross, James Williams)

WASHINGTON, August 26, 2012 —As Tropical Storm Isaac marches north, the American Red Cross opened shelters in Florida today and is prepared for widespread flooding and sheltering a large number of people throughout the state.

“The Red Cross is helping people in Florida who are being affected by the storm, and we urge those throughout the state and the Gulf Coast region who are in Isaac’s projected path to take preparedness steps now,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of disaster services.  “The Red Cross is preparing for what could be a large disaster response across multiple states over the next several weeks.”

The Red Cross has deployed more than 1,000 disaster workers throughout Florida and has materials and supplies positioned for use, including pre-stocking 30,000 ready-to-eat meals in Florida and two mobile kitchens sent to the state.

With Isaac’s effects already being felt in parts of the state, people in Florida should stay informed on the storm’s progress from the National Weather Service. As the storm approaches, people should be prepared to evacuate if directed to do so by authorities.

As of noon, the Red Cross has nearly 20 shelters already open in Florida and is poised to open more as necessary. If someone needs to find a Red Cross shelter, they can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check their local television, radio and newspaper.

It’s also important to stay in touch with family and friends, and the Red Cross Safe and Well website is a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross also is mobilizing disaster workers, emergency vehicles, mobile kitchens and relief supplies to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi as Isaac is expected to move into that area in the next few days. The Red Cross is urging residents in areas that could be affected by the storm to be preparing now.

Isaac is expected to cause serious flooding throughout the region, and people can donate 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.

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 blog.redcross.org.

Local Red Cross Volunteers Head to Florida Ahead of Isaac

By WBAY, By Bao Vang -  click HERE for video of story.
As Tropical Storm Isaac barrels toward Florida, the Red Cross is getting ready to open dozens of shelters across the Sunshine State.

Friday morning, trained disaster workers Betsy LeClair and Joel O’Connell from Two Rivers left from Austin Straubel Airport in Brown County to head to Tampa. They were checked in before the sun rose.

“My partner and I are flying to Tampa to prepare for the impending Hurricane that may or may not hit Florida,” O’Connell said.

They’re among 600 Red Cross volunteers across the country who have taken emergency response training classes to prepare to provide disaster relief.

“When Katrina hit, it was an eye opener for everybody,” said O’Connell. “It’s better to be well-prepared and not have to use your facilities than it is to try and scrape things together at the height of the storms.”

O’Connell and LeClair believe in Tampa they’ll be working to provide shelter and food to people evacuated from their homes.

“We’re quite a ways from the eye of the storm. We’ll be in an outlying area, because the people who are in danger will have been moved to the shelters,” O’Connell said.

Strangers helping strangers during disasters is what the Red Cross is all about, says volunteer director Jody Weyers.

“Volunteers for the American Red Cross are the heart of the organization. We are a volunteer-led organization. Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to provide the programs or services that we do in the community,” Weyers said.

Two other volunteers from Fond du Lac also headed down to Florida to provide relief during the storm.

The Red Cross says it has 22 emergency response vehicles already in Florida and 28 more are headed to the state in preparation for the storm. They have dozens more on stand-by.

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti Friday. It’s expected to hit Cuba by the weekend and become a hurricane by Monday as it makes landfall.

Red Cross Ready To Help As Isaac Heads Toward Florida

WASHINGTON, Thursday, August 23, 2012 — Tropical Storm Isaac could make landfall in Florida in the next few days and the American Red Cross is getting ready to respond if needed.

The Red Cross is preparing to open dozens of shelters across Florida, and moving hundreds of trained disaster workers into the state. There are 22 Red Cross emergency response vehicles already in Florida and 28 more are moving into the state in advance of the storm with an additional 78 on stand-by if needed. The Red Cross is mobilizing five truckloads of disaster supplies to send to Florida and Red Cross disaster warehouses in Georgia and Mississippi are ready to ship emergency supplies if necessary.

 “As Isaac travels northward, we’re getting ready to help people in Florida,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “We urge folks who may be in the path of this storm to get prepared too – to check their emergency supplies, finalize their hurricane plans, and listen closely to local officials for updates on the storm.”

RED CROSS HURRICANE APP One step people should take now is to download the free Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices which puts real time information on hurricane safety at someone’s fingertips. The app features information on Red Cross shelters and a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. The one-touch “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media outlets to tell family and friends they are okay. People across the country planning to travel to areas that could get hit with the storm can use the app to receive weather alerts. The Hurricane App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

GET READY Before the storm, people should prepare by taking the following steps:

  • Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If someone does not have hurricane shutters, they should close and board up their windows and doors with plywood.
  • Fill their vehicle’s gas tank.
  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, like outdoor furniture.
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.

More information on what to do before, during and after a storm is available on the Red Cross web site.

 MEANWHILE IN HAITI, Red Cross workers from all over the world are closely coordinating preparedness efforts and plans to respond as Isaac approaches Hispaniola. Logistical support and cholera contingency plans have been activated for the north and northeast regions of Haiti, including positioning of relief and cholera prevention supplies. The Red Cross is supporting and equipping 55 community readiness committees in camps in Port au Prince with additional first aid supplies, having worked with these committees on an ongoing basis to identify evacuation routes and alternate safe spaces. The Haitian government is in charge of evacuation shelters in Haiti. The Red Cross works with the community to help them get ready for disasters and will respond to any needs Isaac creates.

HOW TO HELP If anyone would like to help, they can make a donation 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, DC20013.

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.

Fond du Lac Military Appreciation Cruise Adventures

By Debbie Krueger, Public Relations Volunteer, Service to Armed Forces

Captain Larry Balttner and his 29 foot sailboat named “Into the Wind”

Monday, August 13th my son Steven and I attended the Military Appreciation Cruise was supported by the Fond du Lac Yacht Club, the Fond du Lac Sailing Club and the American Red Cross.

There was 63 veterans and several active duty and reservists in attendance on 6 sailboats and 9 power boats. Mr. Earl Jewett, who was the coordinator of this event, is also a member of the Yacht and Sailing Clubs. They plan to make this cruise a regular event to be held every August. It has been in existence for three years now. Mr. Jewett went on to explain the purpose behind the Yacht and Sailing Clubs offering this was to show their appreciation to the military by sharing their passion for boating and sailing.

We had the pleasure of joining Captain Larry Balttner on his 29 foot sailboat named “Into the Wind” for a 1 hour sail on Lake Winnebago. He has been sailing for 15 years and this was his 1st time being involved in this particular event.

We had a very pleasant evening and look forward to many more!

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