Disaster Alert: Tornado in Michigan

March 16, 2012

Disaster Alert

Michigan – A tornado touched down in Washtenaw County and destroyed homes, affected scores of others, caused power outages and prompted the evacuation of residents within the affected area on Thursday.

The Washtenaw-Lenawee Chapter deployed Disaster Action Team members, opened two shelters, provided Mass Care and bulk distribution to affected-area residents.

Story: Generations of Daisy Hill family recover from tornado damage with Red Cross help

March 14, 2012

Indiana Tornado Relief

The Jackson family has lived on Daisy Hill in Borden for generations, building homes within earshot of what was the ancestral home–the key word being “was.” The more than 102-year-old house no longer exists, destroyed by the March 2 tornadoes that swept through Kentucky and Indiana leaving hundreds of people homeless including most of the Jackson’s extended family. With little warning on March 3, dozens of family members and neighbors huddled together in the basements of two of the sturdiest homes on the hill and in the direct path of the storm. After the tornado passed, there was little left but rubble as the houses and trees that once dotted the landscape were left a mangled mess. The worst part, according to family members, was hearing the screams for help.

“We were going to stay in my basement but my cousin stopped by and urged us to go to Uncle Larry “Bub” Jackson’s next door. We watched it (the tornado) take the church down to the frame then we ran in and like two seconds later it hit us,” said Amy Chumbley, who huddled in the basement with about 25 members of the family and neighbors. “We have a disabled family member so some of them huddled in the bathroom upstairs. After it hit, we opened the doors and watched it take the next house. It was horrifying. All I remember is my 2-year-old grandbaby crying and the house shaking. Afterwards, my grandbaby screamed bloody murder because he didn’t want to go outside.”

Also screaming for help were family members down the street in the other basement. They had to be dug out from under the debris. Autumn White, a 24-year-old family member who has taken on the responsibility for coordinating the influx of supplies on the hill, said the family was fortunate no one lost their life. One aunt lost two toes but received less injury than the man who pushed her under a table to safety just before debris fell on him crushing his legs. Two older men in a nearby mobile home rode out the storm with their trailer tumbling, landing one of them in a ditch. Family members began search and rescue using a four-wheeler type vehicle until emergency help could arrive.

A proud and independent lot, the family and neighbors have pulled together as a community to deal with their situation. They appear strong on the surface, but in the dark of night, nothing can stop the nightmares. “We’re all having nightmares,” said White, who has spent every day since the storm coordinating a large trailer donated by the Kimball Office in Salem now filled with Red Cross and other donated supplies. FEMA has also added a heated trailer and tent set up as an informal community command center for the residents. Red Cross mental health volunteers have made several visits and are available to help those who want to talk about their fears and to offer guidance on how to deal with the nightmares and bad memories.

Red Cross assistance has also been provided to the residents of Daisy Hill in the form of hot mobile meals delivered twice daily by volunteer Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) teams. ERV driver Gilbert Abney has spent the last 14 days driving up the hill to take food, hot coffee and hot chocolate and has bonded with the family. “He calls me Pink Panther because I wear pink all the time,” White said. “Of all the people we’ve had bring things, he’s my favorite. He is always chipper and leaves us all smiling.”

Chumbley said,”Everybody’s been wonderful. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the kind of help we’ve received.” In addition to help with food and clothing, Chumbley received Red Cross assistance replacing some destroyed medications.

As for White, a now unemployed CNA because of the time she has taken to help her family, is moving forward with wedding plans for Saturday at New Hope Tabernacle in Sellersburg, hoping people remember to come. “There are a lot of destroyed wedding invitations out there,” she said. Last Friday, what was left of the ancestral home was knocked down with debris burned in the hole that was once the basement. “It was like a funeral,” she said. “Everybody was bawling and saying goodbye to our history.”

Fast Facts: Kentucky/Indiana Tornadoes

March 12, 2012

As the Red Cross relief effort enters its second week of service delivery, teams of Client Caseworkers are canvassing affected areas in Southern Indiana and Eastern Kentucky to assess the ongoing needs of families ravaged by the recent tornadoes. Client Caseworkers reach out to families to help determine recovery options such as housing, food, clothing, and medications.

The following information shows our total service delivery since the beginning of the severe weather in Kentucky and Indiana:

Press Release: Red Cross Volunteers Offer Emotional Support

March 8, 2012

Red Cross Volunteers Offer Emotional Support
Residents Affected by Tornadoes Receive Counseling to Cope with Stress

CHATTANOOGA, TN, March 7, 2012 — For many people across East Tennessee the emotional stress of dealing with two catastrophic tornadoes within the last ten months can be almost too much to bear. An essential part of the Red Cross disaster response effort is providing emotional support to those who have been affected by the storm. Trained health care professionals make condolence visits to the bereaved, provide emotional support, determine health needs and replace essentials such as critical medications and eye glasses.

“Many times after a disaster, those who have been affected really just want someone to listen to them and to hear their story,” said Boyd Romines, CEO East Tennessee American Red Cross. “Our volunteers are trained to help clients cope with their feelings of shock, fear and uncertainty and to aid them in the recovery process.”

Red Cross caseworkers are also meeting one-one-one with disaster victims to provide access to resources and tools to support the recovery process, and the means to help replace essential items like clothing and household goods.

Mobilizing the resources to respond to a disaster of this size is possible because of the Red Cross’s year-round preparedness. Day in, day out, volunteers are working to update and assess shelter agreements, attend community and state wide preparedness meetings, maintain vehicles, organize and restock warehouse supplies as well as update training and recruit new volunteers. That is why ongoing donations to support the Red Cross — in addition to helping with disaster response — are so very important.

As of March 7th more than 140 trained Red Cross disaster workers across East Tennessee have:

  • Opened 4 Emergency Shelters to provide storm victims with a safe haven
  • Served more than 10,170 meals and snacks
  • Handed out nearly 2,739 recovery items
  • Delivered 118 Personal Care Kits and household cleaning items.

Red Cross volunteers and staff members across East Tennessee are currently helping with the widespread storm relief effort in all areas that experienced damage including Bradley, Claiborne, Hamilton, McMinn, Monroe & Polk Counties.

Story: Tide “Loads of Hope”

March 8, 2012

Henryville, IN Tornado Relief

One of the partnerships the Red Cross values for its service to people affected by local disasters really cleans up. It’s the Tide “Loads of Hope” program run as a free convenience for families whose homes were damaged or destroyed or who don’t have electricity or access to clean water such as the many people in southern Indiana following the tornados that swept through the area on March 2. Currently, the operation has set up shop near downtown Henryville, Indiana, and is offering free laundry service to anyone in the affected area.

People are invited to drop off up to two laundry bags, supplied by Tide, full of clothing on one day and come back the following day to pick up their clothing, washed, dried and neatly folded the next day. The entire operation is conducted in a parking lot, under an awning attached to a semitrailer equipped with front-loading washer/dryer units. Tide sends these units, in cooperation with the American Red Cross, to disaster centers around the country, as needed. Tide is but one of the many partnerships forged with other agencies that expand the services the Red Cross can provide to victims of national disasters.

Fast Facts: Tornado Response

March 8, 2012

The following information shows our total service delivery since the beginning of the severe weather in Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio:

Story: They help everybody when they need it

March 7, 2012

This story is written by Red Cross volunteer Gerry Holmes.

Indiana Tornadoes 2012

Beverly was at work but Lloyd was home alone with their pet Chihuahua when the sirens went off. He put a chair in the closet, put the dog on his lap and covered up with a blanket and prepared for the worst. As the giant tornado was wreaking havoc all around him, Lloyd, prepared to die as he felt the house begin to lift off the ground. Just then, a giant oak tree behind the house split and dropped on top of the house, pinning it there and preventing it from going anywhere. “Apparently the Lord had other plans for Lloyd,” Beverly says.

They relayed their story after receiving food, work gloves and blankets from the American Red Cross food truck that was cruising the areas affected by the storm. “The Red Cross is so helpful and we appreciateeverything they do” Beverly said. “My brother is a tool and die maker, a smart man,” Beverly says. “He says the Red Cross is the only charity he’ll contribute to because they give back so much. They help everybody when they need it.”

Video: Red Cross Helps in West Liberty, Kentucky

March 7, 2012

This video is a glimpse into what the community of West Liberty, Kentucky has endured since a massive tornado swept down the banks of the Licking River on March 2, 2012, taking aim at the heart of the town. Emergency officials, the Red Cross, community partners, local churches, schools, elected officials, complete strangers and the townspeople themselves are all working around the clock to help their community heal.

Video by Anita Foster, American Red Cross
Photo Credits: Anita Foster, Lynette Nyman, Winn Stephens: American Red Cross

Press Release: Alabama Red Cross Caseworkers to Begin Meeting With Affected Families

March 6, 2012

Red Cross Service Center Locations
Red Cross Still Providing Relief

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 6, 2012 – In the coming days, American Red Cross Alabama Region caseworkers will be meeting one-one-one with disaster victims affected by last weekend’s tornadoes and severe weather to provide access to resources and tools to support the recovery process, and the means to help replace essential items like clothing and household goods. Red Cross mental health workers are helping people cope with the devastating things they have had to endure. Health workers are helping replace things like lost medications and eyeglasses.

Red Cross damage assessment volunteers have determined that more than 500 homes in Alabama were affected in some way. More than 90 volunteers continue to provide Red Cross services. So far, the following items have been distributed to families recovering from the aftermath of the tornados:

  • 300 meals
  • 500 snacks
  • 30 clean up kits
  • 60 comfort kits
  • 400 bulk items such as rakes, shovels, etc.

Story: West Liberty Relying on Red Cross After Tornado

March 6, 2012

This story is written by Lynette Nyman, a Red Cross worker in Kentucky.

Tornado, West Liberty, Kentucky
Chianna, Stacy, Daniel, and baby Daniel at the Red Cross shelter in West Liberty, Kentucky.

For some, the Red Cross shelter in West Liberty, Kentucky, is the only home they have. “Without the Red Cross,” says Stacy LeMaster, 26, “we would be on the street.”

Since the March 2 tornado hugged the ground, wiping out dozens of homes and businesses in West Liberty, Stacy, her husband, and their three children have sought refuge at the shelter where everybody knows everybody. “This is just like home,” says Daniel.

Disaster relief workers from around the region are providing essential services to more than 50 people seeking refuge in the shelter. The shelter is also an assistance station for dozens more staying with family and friends, but who are otherwise homeless.

Shelter operations manager Brad Powell says Red Cross relief teams are also in the community. “We have relief workers doing damage assessment and mass feeding,” says Powell.

Some of the relief workers at the shelter have had little sleep, including Breck Hensley, 16, who has friends affected by the tornado. He says being a Red Cross volunteer is a good experience. “I’m just trying to help all those people who need it because if I were them, I would want it,” says Hensley.

People in West Liberty are likely to rely on the Red Cross shelter for many more days as the slow process of tornado recovery takes its turn.


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