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 Reminder: Check Smoke Alarms When Clocks Spring Forward

Nationwide home fire campaign aims to reduce the number of home fire deaths, injuries

daylight-saving-time-570Daylight Saving Time is this weekend and when everyone turns their clocks ahead, the American Red Cross reminds them to also take these steps to make sure their household is prepared for emergencies.

We urge people to take these steps now and know what they should do if an emergency occurs.

  • Check smoke alarm batteries. When turning the clocks ahead, take a few minutes to replace the smoke alarm batteries and push the test button to make sure the alarms are working. It’s also a great time to check carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install smoke alarms. If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
  • Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Get a kit. Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or carry in case ordered to evacuate.
  • Make a plan. Have all household members plan what steps they should take if an emergency occurs.
  • Be informed. Learn what emergencies can occur in the area and how officials notify residents should a disaster occur.

Home Fire Preparedness Campaign The Red Cross responds to 70,000 disasters across the country every year and most of these are home fires. Tragically, some people lose their lives in these fires, countless others are injured. The Red Cross has launched the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent over the next five years.

The campaign is happening all over the country and involves Red Cross workers joining with local fire departments and community groups to visit neighborhoods at high risk for fires. Those visits include educating people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installation of smoke alarms in some of these neighborhoods.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Maxine Klumb of the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter

maxineCongratulations to Maxine Klumb, of Oshkosh, on being named one of the March 2015 Volunteers of the Month by the American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region.

Retired, and eager to keep busy with volunteer work, Maxine joined the Red Cross in September of 2009. “After working in the health profession helping people in need for 30 years, I figured that this would be a good fit for me,” explains Maxine.

Volunteering about 18 hours per week, Maxine wears a number of very important hats – she is a Casework Supervisor for Northeast Wisconsin, Fox Valley Disaster Action Team Captain and Co-Chair, and a member of the Regional Disaster Planning Leadership Team. Maxine also assists with preparedness activities and deploys on national operations. According to her nominator, Nick Cluppert, Disaster Cycle Services Program Manager, “Maxine is always willing to help wherever she can. She has taken on a number of responsibilities for Disaster Cycle Services, and excels in all of them!”

Maxine’s work impacts the Red Cross every day. Maxine stays busy making sure that clients’ needs are always met on time. When cases are opened, Maxine ensures the case is assigned to a casework volunteer and the necessary steps are being followed to meet the client’s disaster causes needs. As a Fox Valley Co-Chair, when new volunteers come on board she will make sure they are assigned to a team and have all necessary supplies and resources to do their jobs.

“Maxine is dedicated and knowledgeable about what she does. She is reliable, and is always someone you can count on…Just this past month Maxine has gone above and beyond. There was a single family fire in Waupaca County, Maxine lives in Winnebago County, and when we were not able to get someone to respond she was on her way to assist the family. She also did a deployment recently to Washington State for a flooding operation. Maxine was recruited for her knowledge of the Client Assistance System. Upon her return, she literally landed at the airport I called her, she was then responding to an apartment fire in Menasha that had displaced 50+ residents…If this isn’t dedication and going above and beyond I don’t know what is!” Nick exclaimed.

Maxine encourages everyone to join as volunteers of the American Red Cross. According to Maxine, “there is always a need for volunteer help. You will love the feeling you get after you have helped someone, be it a single house fire or a major disaster. You can volunteer as much or as little as you desire.”

Thank you, Maxine, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

Welcome Paige – Disaster Services Intern

Paige BurgessMy name is Paige Burgess. I am currently a junior at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I am majoring in Human Services Leadership and hope to go on to graduate school. Currently I am a part of the Human Services Leadership Organization, along with going on my fourth year in the University Honors Program and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Swim team. I have always wanted to help as a profession, even as a child. When I was younger I wanted to help animals and now my interests have grown to helping anyone I can. When I learned about this major I knew I had found what I’ve been looking for. I have been a lifeguard for about five years and knowing that Red Cross does the training was about all I knew about this organization until I did my research. I am truly honored to be interning with the Northeastern Wisconsin American Red Cross team. The amount of work and dedication they have for helping people in need is overwhelming and I am happy that I get to be a part of it.

A little bit about me: I am from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin where my love for helping started. In high school I joined my church on several mission trips. We went to New Orleans twice to help with the destruction from hurricane Katrina and we went to New York to volunteer with multiple soup kitchens and other churches. Coming from a smaller town these experiences really allowed me to see another side of life. Although I am unsure on what I want to do as a profession, I am excited to experience as much as life will offer.

Being given the opportunity to intern with the Red Cross I believe will show me many aspects of my major that I have not considered yet and hopefully this will lead me in the direction of what I would like to do in the future.

Oshkosh Today!

Check out Northeast Wisconsin Chapter Executive, Steve Hansen on Oshkosh Today talking about our Home Fires Campaign!

  • Do you have a plan?
  • Do you practice that plan?
  • Have you checked your smoke detectors?
  • Do you have a smoke detector on every level of your home?

Some simple tips that could save your life!

 

Fire!!! Could this happen to you?

Please watch this news story courtesy of Fox 6 in Milwaukee and then take the actions steps!

Click on link below:

 http://fox6now.com/2015/01/15/five-year-old-boy-receiving-treatment-at-the-hospital-after-two-alarm-blaze-at-duplex-in-milwaukee/

People can take several steps to protect themselves and their loved ones and increase their chances of surviving a fire.

  • Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day.
    • Include two ways to get out of every room and consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.
    • Pick a place outside for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
    • Practice that home fire drill until everyone in the household can do it in less than two minutes.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.

10710893_10152718411990071_1668250310886687572_nMore than forty percent (42 percent) of Americans feel confident they can escape their burning home in two minutes. Most parents (69 percent) believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help.

  • The problem with these assumptions is that less than half of parents (48 percent)   with children ages 3-17 have talked to their families about fire safety.
  • Only a third (30 percent) of families with children have identified a safe place to meet outside the home.
  • Less than one in five families with children (18 percent) have actually practiced home fire drills.

Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire. Just in the past month, three lives have been lost in Wisconsin alone. For more information, please visit redcross.org/firesafety

Home Fires Become Top Disaster Threat

Home fires top list of disaster responses throughout Wisconsin

Card Style

 

This year, the Red Cross helped more people affected by home fires than all other disasters combined. Locally trained workers responded at all hours of the day with food, blankets and comfort to help more than 3,451 people with nowhere else to turn after home fires from January 1 to December 1, 2014.

During that same timeframe, the Red Cross also provided financial support to 1,064 households after home fires to help replace lost belongings and begin the long road to recovery. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in the community every 8 minutes and the vast majority of these are home fires.

Within December alone, we have already responded to nearly 50 additional fires as this is our busiest month of the year including several large apartment building fires in Milwaukee.

“While tornadoes, floods and hurricanes tend to dominate the headlines, people often underestimate the frequency and devastation caused by home fires, and that’s where the Red Cross comes in,” said Marytha Blanchard, the states Disaster Officer. “Our work doesn’t end after the smoke clears, every day local volunteers are helping people to recover and get better prepared.”

Curbing Deaths and Injuries from Home Fires

Because of the high number of home fires in this country, the Red Cross launched a campaign this year to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. The organization is asking every household in America to take two simple steps: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

Since the campaign launched in October, the Red Cross—in partnership with fire departments and community groups nationwide—has already reached more than 29,000 people by installing 17,000 smoke alarms. These efforts have already saved five lives nationwide. In the Wisconsin Region, we’ve already reached 599 people by installing 342 smoke alarms in Beloit, Chippewa Falls, Kaukauna, Stevens Point and Milwaukee. Based on 5-year historical data, additional neighborhoods are being coordinated for 2015 outreach.

Other Notable Disaster Responses

Within the state, we have responded to numerous other disasters this year, including the Platteville and Verona tornadoes, flooding and even power outages. In addition, our trained responders have also traveled across the country to assist in the California & Texas wildfires, Buffalo blizzard, Oso mudslide, Pilger tornadoes and longer-term casework for the Illinois tornado/flood.

Our work is made possible by the generosity of the American public. You can help people affected by disasters big and small by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables us to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. You can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

 

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