Since the beginning of the Colorado flood response, Red Cross has provided the following services:
- Shelters/Evacuation Centers: 20
- Shelter Overnight Stays: 5,232
- Meals Served: 12,998
- Snacks Served: 115,646
- Emergency Response Vehicles: 24
- Total Cases Opened: 760
- Clean Up Kits:3 8,061
- Bulk Items: 127,981
- Comfort Kits: 11,554
- Mental Health Contacts: 7,894
- Health Services Contacts: 4,514
- Total Red Cross Workers: 865
- Red Cross Volunteers: 974
- Safe and Well Registrations: 1,628
Jacque Watson knows Lyons, Colorado very well. She’s lived here her entire life and is a big part of this community. She’s the town’s economic developer, as well as in community relations and the deputy town clerk. So, it was no wonder that her phone rang constantly the night of September 11, as the rains poured down and the flooding started.
“The people were calling me all night long, so concerned about the river,” she said. At 1:30 a.m., the decision was made to sound the evacuation sirens – and Jacque has been busy ever since.
“I’ve been helping in the rescue operation, setting up the evacuation center, and getting information to the town,” she said, adding that taking care of her own family, including three kids, has been secondary.
So it was no wonder that she was glad to see volunteers arriving from the American Red Cross to assist in the restoration efforts.
“It has been such a relief to see that a bigger presence in the world, such as the American Red Cross, wants to come and help us out. People really do care about us and haven’t forgotten us!” she said.
Sometimes the unconditional love of a dog is all you need.
As flood relief efforts continue throughout Colorado, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from around the country continue to work around the clock to meet the needs of those impacted. The long hours and time away from home can be tough sometimes, but thanks to the local team from HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (AACR), Red Crossers recently received a much-needed lift from a couple of loving canines.
Led by Rocky Mountain Regional Director Karen Klein and her HOPE team, border collie Hondo and golden retriever Daniel spent several hours making the rounds among the hundreds of volunteers at headquarters. These dogs – specially trained to provide comfort and encouragement to those affected by crisis – were a welcome sight to the Red Cross team, many of whom have been separated from their own families and pets for several weeks.
“This is the largest group we’ve ever seen but the dogs are loving every minute and the response has been amazing,” said Klein, a team leader and Director for HOPE’s Rocky Mountain Region. “Everybody here has been doing so much to help the community, this is just a great opportunity to say thank you.”
Research has demonstrated that dogs offer many health benefits to humans, including helping to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and of course provide emotional support through difficult times. The HOPE dogs surely met all those needs and more during their time at headquarters.
“This is so great, I miss my dogs so much,” said Victoria Goldfedib, a volunteer from Central Texas as she came to pet Daniel for a third time.
And she wasn’t the only one. By the end of their visit, Daniel and Hondo had secured a number of new lifelong friends in the Red Cross.
HOPE AACR is the first organization certifying Animal-Assisted Crisis Response teams. They have have certified crisis response teams in five regions, covering 30 states. Teams are trained in stress management for humans and canines.
Since September 2001, HOPE AACR teams have responded to the aftermath of crises and disasters, from individual traumas to large scale emergencies. Teams have worked with local and national response agencies, such as FEMA, NOVA, American Red Cross, as well as fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and schools.
For more information about HOPE AACR, please visit http://hopeaacr.org/
Pamela Stowell had seen the water beside her Longmont, Colo., home rise before, but never with the speed and intensity as it did this time.
Knowing that the family had only a few minutes to evacuate, she quickly hustled her two young daughters into action.
By the time Crystal, 9, and JoAnn, 5, grabbed some clothing and headed out the door, the water was two feet high – and rising.
The family now faced a dilemma – how to evacuate Pamela’s elderly bedridden mother. A neighbor quickly found an air mattress, and they managed to float the family to safety.
The entire family spent a few nights at an American Red Cross shelter in nearby Mead. After returning back home to face the daunting task of cleaning up, Pamela praised the staff and volunteers of the Red Cross.
“Red Cross is great – they gave us a place to stay,” she said.
She said her family had been impressed by everyone at the shelter – so much so, that she is already planning a “thank-you” picnic for some time next year – as well as making a financial donation once the family is back on their feet.
As far as the disaster that affected her home, she keeps a positive attitude.
“Hey – a disaster is certainly one way to get to know your neighbors better!” she said.
Estes Park, Colorado, September 20, 2013.
American Red Cross volunteer Bob Wallace, along with Red Cross volunteer colleagues Virginia Hart and Katie Rowley, stopped at Wind River Ranch to see if assistance is needed after the recent flooding. The Ranch, a Christian family conference center, suffered heavy damage from the recent flooding. The Red Cross workers wanted to make sure they knew that in Estes Park a Red Cross shelter is available where overnight accommodations, three meals a day, nursing assistance, and disaster mental health services are available.
Nick Harold, Ranch Foreman, was present when water came crashing down the mountainside that sits adjacent to the ranch residence, offices, conference center, and horse corrals. He described the deluge as a literal wall of water. “We had 54 horses in the corral. At one point the horses were up to their withers in water,” said Harold.
Water had loosened the soil on the mountainside, sending down huge piles of mud and broken trees. “When the mudslide let loose, it made a horrible noise, a grinding of rocks and the snapping of trees,” said Harold. “We had just put up a new fence around the corral, but I worried it would not hold, and that we would find a corral full of horses with broken legs,” said Harold.
To save the residence and conference center, Harold mobilized his crew who used the ranchÕs earth-moving equipment to clear mud and sludge to allow the water to keep moving. At the time of the flood there were 30 church pastors and wives present for a conference. “They all pitched in with shovels to help clear the silt and sediment out of the stream of water,” said Harold. The group worked 20 hours straight and were rewarded by successfully protecting the structures from damage.
Once the structures were protected, Harold said he was almost afraid to go to the corral. He imagined it would be filled with horses in agony due to numerous broken legs, and that his next task would be to euthanize those critically hurt. To his surprise they were all unharmed. The new fence had blocked the debris from inundating the corral. He and his crew quickly moved the horses out of the damaged area and relocated them to their summer pasture.
At the end of the visit with Harold he invited the Red Cross visitors to share dinner with him and the rest of the ranch crew. “Our cooks are wonderful and prepare meals for 30-40 every night. Three more at the last minute will not be a problem,” he said. They were touched by the offer and would have loved to join them, but due to the late hour and the long drive back to their headquarters, they reluctantly got back into their 4×4 vehicle and pointed it towards Denver.
Story Credit: Robert W. Wallace/American Red Cross
By CARL MANNING
To the casual visitor, it looks like a whirlwind of chaos with big trucks backing up to the unloading doors, forklifts zipping around the massive warehouse floor unloading dozens of pallets and then loading them into other vehicles for delivery to area affected by the Colorado flooding.
In recent days, more than 17 truckloads of supplies including personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, lanterns, tents, sleeping bags, rakes, tarps, gloves, flashlights, colors and insect repellent has arrived.
“We want to get the product out to the client because they are ones who are needing it and they are needing it now,” Bos said.
On a recent day, Bos and his crew were busy loading a truck with blankets, gloves and cleanup kits heading out to one of the flooded areas. He watched to make sure everything was loaded properly and secured for the ride before heading out.
While overseeing the warehouse operation is a big part of his work, Bos feels he has another role to make sure that the money donated to the Red Cross is being used efficiently.
“I don’t see where anything we do shouldn’t be concerned with the donor dollar,” he said. “They are ones who are paying for this and we need to respect that.”
Bos, who retired after an Air Force career, said he is volunteering with the Red Cross because “it’s time to give back to the community.”
It’s a job with long hours and no pay, but Bos said his reward is knowing that what he is doing is helping those in need.
“You can’t put a dollar figure on it,” he said.