Community Partnerships a Must in Helping People Recover from Disaster

by Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, American Red Cross 

Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, presenting  to volunteers and community partners in West Bend.

Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, presenting to volunteers and community partners in West Bend.

Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) are a newer concept that can be used following a disaster to provide services to clients. MARCs are locations that are set up where different organizations come together under one roof to provide services to those affected by the disaster. The MARCs allows clients to come to one place to receive services, and prevents that client from having to go to multiple places to receive services to help with their recovery efforts.

The Red Cross has been doing a number of informational sessions on MARCs that volunteers and community partners have been invited to attend to learn more information. Three separate sessions were held in West Bend, Neenah and Fond du Lac in September and October. Between the three sessions 81 volunteers and community partners attended to learn more about MARCs and how they can benefit the community and individuals following a disaster. By holding these informational sessions we were able to educate our partners on what MARCs are, so when a disaster happens they will already be familiar with the concept. New partnerships and agreements are being formed because of these sessions. It is exciting to see the collaboration that had developed between agencies by bringing people together with a common goal – helping disaster clients with their recovery.

We will continue to work with the partners that have come to these sessions, as well as those that did not come to continue to develop plans and procedures on how we will bring a MARC together following a disaster.

There will be additional MARC informational sessions planned for the future. If you or your agency are interested in learning more please contact Nick Cluppert, Program Manager, at 920-231-3692 x19 or nick.cluppert@redcross.org 

Harvey Lorenz – Dedicated and Engaged Legacy Society Member

m16140841_legacy-society_137x135We are very proud of Harvey Lorenz and the incredible work he does in the field and his long term planning to ensure the future of the American Red Cross critical services and programs.  Harvey and his wife Margaret, were featured in the Summer 2014 Legacy newsetter published by the American Red Cross.

You can read his entire story here.  

 

By Harvey Lorenz, American Red Cross Volunteer 

Soon after I retired in 1995, a church friend who served on the board of the local Red Cross chapter recruited me to join the board as its treasurer. After two terms as treasurer, I served as chair of the nominating committee and then served three terms as local chapter chair. During this time, I became active in the local disaster response team, mainly by being called out as a “caseworker” in the middle of the night to assist various families experiencing home fires.

Typically, I’d receive several of these calls every month, and my wife Margaret became known as the most awake and cheerful person to answer the phone in the middle of the night.

harvey LorenzIn 2005, my heart went out to the many victims of Katrina and I quickly volunteered to go south. I was sent to Mississippi where I was an intake interviewing caseworker helping to determine what kind of aid displaced families and individuals could receive and counseling them on how to receive additional assistance from other community resources or their own insurance companies. So often these people had left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they had no rapid access to any savings because their banks were flooded and not operating, and/or they didn’t remember the names of their insurance agents (or those agents had been displaced as well). I talked to one woman who had given birth the day after fleeing her home, had named her baby Katrina, and was staying in the mass shelter with her week-old infant. Another put her two-year old in a laundry basket “boat” and swam to safety, pulling him behind her. Her friend who left their flooded house with her never made it to dry ground. Several people had been pulled off their roofs by helicopter crews, and others had lost touch with family members or were grieving relatives who had died.

These interviews were hard on me personally. There were times when I had to put a “closed” sign on my table in the shelter hallway for a few minutes while I went outside to clear my head.

When I came home after three weeks in Mississippi, I knew I wanted to keep helping on the national level, but I also knew I wasn’t good at being a caseworker in such extreme situations. I immediately signed up for classes in disaster assessment and financial/statistical information gathering and reporting.

Right away, over Thanksgiving in 2005, I was able to use some of the assessment skills in Florida after Wilma, and most of my responses since then (14 more national disasters in all, generally two to three weeks each) have been related to the financial/statistical responsibilities, often as a supervisor and even as “state manager” in New Hampshire after Ike-related flooding. Some of the other national calls have involved Kansas ice storms, flooding in southern Wisconsin, and multiple tornados in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. I responded after Superstorm Sandy twice actually, once initially (over Thanksgiving again) and then about three months later when the Red Cross was making a big push to permanently relocate everyone who’d been in temporary housing since the storm. I’ve stayed in gymnasiums, church shelters, converted warehouse shelters, a Boy Scout camp, motels with barely dry rooms and no other services, and low-end walk-up big-city hotels.

On the local level, disaster services has been reorganized so that now I am captain of a team that’s on-call about one week out of six, and that has meant fewer late-night phone calls. Additionally, I’ve responded as shelter worker for a couple of regional flooding situations, doing disaster assessment after a tornado in our own city, and—last year two weeks after my total knee replacement, when I couldn’t walk anywhere on rough terrain–I served as the phone liaison between the Red Cross and County Emergency Services. I have been active on fundraising committees and also serve as a kind of a 24/7 back-up to the local staff disaster manager during those times when he might be out of town or on vacation.

Although Margaret has never accompanied me on any of my responses, she says she feels that she is contributing a bit too, as she never complains about my being gone over holidays and family events, and she takes over my at-home responsibilities with our own two dogs and our volunteer fostering of rescue dogs. We can’t really identify when, how, or why, we changed from sending Red Cross minimal yearly contributions and became larger donors. That and designating the American Red Cross in my will just seemed the right things to do in order to continue to respond to local and national disasters. I’ve seen the good we can do.

If you would like information about how you can support our mission and help those in need by creating your own legacy like Harvey and Margaret Lorenz have done, please contact our Gift Planning Office at 1-800-797-8022 ext 5,  giftplanning@redcross.org or log on to http://www.redcrosslegacy.org 

Top 10 Songs You Need in Your Life During Fire Safety Month

Here is a clever re-post from  Erin Hunt Miller, Regional Communications Director at American Red Cross, Central Illinois Region

October! Its a month of spooky stuff, football games and, because it is National Fire Safety Month, fire prevention.  I took a very unofficial Red Cross poll of staff and volunteers across the Midwest, and they ranked the following songs as the best fire songs of all time.

10. Rooms on Fire by Stevie Nicks – “Every time that you walk in a room” in your home remember the two ways to escape in case of a fire. Everyone in the family should know this for every room in your home.

9. Fire by the Pointer Sisters - Fire can “have a hold on you right from the start”, so in case of a fire… Get out, stay out and call 9-1-1.

8. I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen – “The Boss” may be on fire, but he doesn’t want you to be.  Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

7. Fire by Jimi Hendrix – An awesome song to remind you to “stand next to your fire”.  Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

6. Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis – An oldie but a goodie is a great illustration of the unpredictable nature of fire.  If your home is on fire, remember that once you are out of the house, do not go back in to retrieve ANYTHING.

5. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple – The song with (in my opinion) one of the best intro guitar riffs of all time reminds you about the power of smoke. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

4. We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel – Maybe Billy didn’t start the fire, but who could?  Talk to your children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.

3. Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash – “Love burns, burns, burns like a ring of fire”, and so can potholders, towels, plastic and clothing.  So, be sure you keep those items far from the stove while cooking.

2. Light my Fire by The Doors – Where should you “light your fire”?  Not indoors because carbon monoxide can kill.  So never use a generator, grill, camp stove or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement or any partially enclosed area.

1. Burning Down the House by The Talking Heads – Fire can quickly burn down the house so make sure your family is notified quickly.  Stop reading this post and replace the batteries in your smoke alarms. Do this at least once a year.

For more Red Cross fire safety tips, click here.

Welcome Americorps Member: Caitlin Schenck

By Caitlin Schenck, Americorps Member 

My name is Caitlin Schenck Caitlin Schenckand I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay where I completed two bachelor’s degrees in three years’ time.  I received a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning, a B.A. in Political Science and my minor was Public Administration.  As the mother of a toddler, I was unable to become as involved as I would have liked to be during years at UWGB, I was able to gain some amazing work and volunteer experiences when my schedule allowed me to do so.  The last nine months of my college career I interned with the blood services department of the American Red Cross.  When the opportunity presented itself to me, I was really excited because the Red Cross is an organization I have held near and dear to my heart for years.

Originally, I come from a small town near Wisconsin Dells, Reedsburg.  I graduated high school in 2006 and moved to Madison almost immediately after.  In 2008, what has been referred to as the 2008 Midwest Flood happened where several states including my hometown had a flood that almost bankrupted the town’s economy.  Many of my close friends lost their homes and were forced to rebuild.  The Red Cross was the first organization in town after the first responders.  All of the roads were closed for a few weeks and so much traffic was rerouted I couldn’t make it back right away to help, and to this day, I am so thankful those volunteers in the community were there to help all of my loved ones when I couldn’t.  So when I was given the opportunity to become a part of the Red Cross team here in Green Bay, and given opportunities to volunteer as well, I jumped on board and I can happily say they’ve gained a lifer out of me.

In my time as an intern, I enjoyed the work I was doing, helping out at blood drives, but the chapter end of the Red Cross and disaster services was something I was much more interested in.  Then, I got a tip from a friend that there was a part time AmeriCorps position open in Green Bay working in Disaster Preparedness.  I applied, interviewed, and have become a member with AmeriCorps.  Once again, I have the opportunity to work with the Red Cross in Disaster Preparedness and I could not be more excited for this amazing experience!  Now, I will be reaching out to community members and performing preparedness presentations, recruiting new volunteers, and assisting in the Red Cross’ Pillowcase Project which is geared toward 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  I just cannot express how excited I am to watch this next year unfold and to be able to be a part of the Red Cross family once again, gain new experiences, spread the word of the importance of preparedness and hopefully make an impact in the process.

Colorado Floods – One Year Later!

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director

It is hard to believe one year ago today, I was boarding a plane for Denver, CO to help tell the story of so many that were impacted by the devastating floods. Here’s a look back at the many faces who touched my life and the stories I wrote about during my deployment experience.

Monday, September 16, 2013. Red Cross shelter at the YMCA, Boulder, Colorado. Esther Peter, of Boulder, Colorado, shares her heroic story with Dr. Kathy Palakow, Psy.D., LPC, Red Cross Mental Health Worker of Boulder, CO. Photo by Hector Emanuel/American Red Cross

Monday, September 16, 2013. Red Cross shelter at the YMCA, Boulder, Colorado. Esther Peter, of Boulder, Colorado, shares her heroic story with Dr. Kathy Palakow, Psy.D., LPC, Red Cross Mental Health Worker of Boulder, CO. Photo by Hector Emanuel/American Red Cross

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Monday, September 16, 2013. Red Cross shelter at Niwot High School, Niwot, Colorado. Donna Hitz, 81, of Lyons, Colorado, shares with Red Cross worker Jody Weyers of Green Bay, Wisconsin, her experience of being airlifted by a helicopter from her property to safety. Her neighbors knocked on her door to alert her to the evacuation and the next thing she knew, a helicopter was landing in her pasture. Photo by Hector Emanuel/American Red Cross

Monday, September 16, 2013. Red Cross shelter at Niwot High School, Niwot, Colorado. Donna Hitz, 81, of Lyons, Colorado, shares with Red Cross worker Jody Weyers of Green Bay, Wisconsin, her experience of being airlifted by a helicopter from her property to safety. Her neighbors knocked on her door to alert her to the evacuation and the next thing she knew, a helicopter was landing in her pasture. Photo by Hector Emanuel/American Red Cross

Deployment – Day 1 

Colorado Floods – Telling our Story: Part 1

 

Click HERE to the American Red Cross one year update report.

Never Forget

We all remember where we were on this day 13 years ago. It is a day that will live in our hearts and minds forever. Thoughts of comfort and support go out to the many families that lost loved ones on this tragic day.

To look back, and to never forget, here is a story from Carl Ducharme, of Green Bay, who was deployed to Ground Zero as an American Red Cross volunteer. We thank Carl, and all the volunteers who gave of their heart and soul to help those in need.

September 11 1

September is National Preparedness Month

1174629_10151849763080071_1492313273_nSeptember is National Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross urges families to develop an emergency plan to be ready for the next emergency or disaster.

Things can happen very quickly and sometimes there are only minutes to react. Planning ahead can help keep households safe. Having an emergency plan helps families be prepared for an emergency or large-scale disaster. You can visit the Preparedness section of redcross.org to learn what steps your family can take when emergencies strike.

RED CROSS APPS Several free Red Cross mobile apps offer help creating emergency plans. Use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create an emergency plan and then share it with loved ones. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for Android by searching for ‘American Red Cross’. A Family Disaster Plan Template is also available for download to help make or update the plan.

HOME FIRES The most common disaster threat people face across the country is a fire in their home. National Preparedness Month is a good time to develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone in the household. When developing the plan, walk through the home and look at all exits and possible escape routes, including windows. List two ways to get out of every room in case fire blocks one of the paths. Pick a place to meet outside, a safe distance away and – no matter the circumstances – stay out of the home until fire officials say it is okay to go back inside. All households should practice their plan at least twice a year.

You should also install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test the alarms monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year and replace them every ten years.

READY RATING Businesses and schools face a number of emergencies that could disrupt their operations, ranging from natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and floods to outbreaks of illness such as the flu. The program features a website,readyrating.org, that enables businesses and organizations to measure how ready they are to deal with emergencies – and then gives instant customized feedback on how to improve. A free, self-paced membership program, Ready Rating begins with a comprehensive assessment of whether a business or organization is prepared to handle a disaster. Members score themselves on how prepared they are and receive steps they can take to improve their readiness planning. The assessment covers items from hazard vulnerability to continuity of operations and employee readiness.

 

Don’t wait! Take action this month to prepare you, your family, community and workplace!

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