STORY: Finding Comfort in a Red Cross Shelter

June 5, 2013

Story written by Red Cross worker Anna Kate Twitty.

Oklahoma Tornado Response
Red Cross mental health worker Charlotte Taylor provides support to father and baby at the Red Cross shelter located at Moore Community Center.

More than two weeks after devastating tornadoes hit Oklahoma, people are still coming to American Red Cross shelters to seek a safe and positive place to stay, like the Hueso family whose home was severely damaged in Moore. After staying with relatives for nearly two weeks, Jesus Hueso and his young family decided to seek additional help by coming to the Red Cross shelter at Moore Community College.

“I’m originally from Arizona and didn’t even know what a tornado was,” said Hueso. “And I certainly did not know what all the Red Cross did to help until I actually needed it.”

Jesus and his family have been spending some time with Red Cross volunteers while staying at the shelter. His family has formed a special bond with mental health volunteer, Charlotte Taylor.

“Everyone here is super nice and helpful,” said Hueso, “I can’t walk 10 feet without someone asking if we need help.”
When talking about the shelter and how the Red Cross is helping, Taylor said that, “people know when they come in that no matter how hopeless or helpless they feel, we care about them. We line them up with counselors, case works and health services.”

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STORY: Illinois Flooding

April 29, 2013

Illinois Flooding ResponseRita has lived in Barstow since she was 15 years old. She has seen the river flood before, but she has never seen anything like this. the entire neighborhood was flooded. On Saturday, April 20th, as she came home from an errand, unaware of the evacuation notice issued 24 hours earlier while she was at work. She asked the firefighters on her street what was happening. She was told that the levee had just broke; she had 30 minutes to get out and most likely would never be coming back.

Rita panicked, thinking of the children at her house and knowing that she needed help. She immediately when to her 12 year old son and told him to grab everything that he could in 5 minutes, then to take the two little ones outside to the porch and distract them from what was really happening inside. “I couldn’t believe what was happening. I tried to get everything that we would need, but it was impossible.”

Rita is living with her family in a friend’s mobile home right now. “I’ve had good spirits considering all that has happened, but we need help.”

The Red Cross provided Rita with a clean up kit and talked to her about options for housing and other assistance. Caseworker, Karen Nelson, “Sometimes people need to be able to tell their stories and we are there to listen.”

STORY: Flooding in Michigan

April 29, 2013

Michigan Flooding

Water was everywhere in April 2013, when the Grand River overflowed its banks and surrounded homes, parks, and roads. Two Red Cross volunteers from the Detroit area learned of the disaster and immediately came to help.

John McGill and Evans Lucas drove an Emergency Response Vehicle through Grandville and stopped at several houses to see if people needed help. At one home, they found an elderly couple with water damage in the basement.

“They were worried about getting mold and mildew down there,” said Evans. “They said they called some carpet companies, but it would cost $300-$400 to get the carpet removed – something they couldn’t afford and they weren’t able to do it themselves.”

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STORY: The Unexpected Completion of the Circle of American Red Cross Care

February 13, 2013


Coming full circle now has real meaning to American Red Cross Mississippi volunteers Mitchell and Hazel Rodgers after Sunday’s historic tornado destroyed their West Hattiesburg neighborhood.

Since suffering a stroke this past fall, Hazel finds herself spending more time in her bed resting than she cares to, as well as her husband who has health concerns that prevent them from being active volunteers.

“We were both in bed Sunday afternoon when the sirens began to sound,” states the soft spoken Hazel. “I hate to admit it, but after hearing sirens for what seemed like an hour, I decided nothing was going to happen.” One of her daughters, Melissa Taylor realized it was suddenly dark outside. Opening the door, she frantically screamed “Momma it’s a tornado!” as she could now see the three quarter mile wide EF-4 tornado, packing winds of 170mph headed towards their home four blocks from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Melissa quickly ran to her parent’s room, quickly placing an oxygen mask on her father unable to leave his bed. She then grabbed her son Taylor, 13, running to the bathroom where she threw him into the tub, as she laid on top of him.
“The house began to vibrate, “stated Hazel. “My bed began to shake so violently it knocked me out of the bed to the floor.” All survived amazingly without injury, but the home was destroyed.

Her other daughter Mitchellyn Rodgers, who lives in the same neighborhood, was also seeking safety, racing with her 13 year old son Thomas and Makalynn, 10 to their bathroom, as all three held on to each other in the shower.

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STORY: Partners in Providing Comfort

January 30, 2013

Written by Tracy Duncan

Hurricane Sandy: NC Baptists Command Unit

In the parking lot of Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, you’ll find trailers and tents of various sizes. Many of those trailers belong to the Red Cross, but if you look nearby, you’ll see several from the North Carolina Baptists on Mission.

The North Carolina Baptists on Mission is a statewide group dedicated to the disaster relief ministry and is focused on relieving human suffering caused by disasters. They fulfill their mission by providing hot meals, debris removal and other services. The group has been in New York since shortly after Hurricane Sandy made land fall, sending crews to help remove mud and debris from homes, install sheet rock and other rebuilding services much needed by those left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake.

While the crews of men head into neighborhoods during the day, another crew remains behind in this self-sufficient community. The North Carolina Baptists have bunk trailers, shower trailers, kitchen trailers, command trailers, utility/tool trailers and even a laundry trailer. They haul in their own water, which are refilled by local military groups.

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STORY: Hometown Heroes

January 30, 2013

Written by Tracy Duncan.

Island Park, New York Sandy Relief
Volunteer Norma Himpler prepares food for a resident of Island Park.

It’s not uncommon to see t-shirts and signs with “I heart NY” throughout town. What’s more true is that New Yorkers “heart NY” and are proving that by giving countless hours as Red Cross volunteers.

Bob Rathbone and Sue deBourg have been volunteers with the Mineola Chapter, part of the Greater New York Chapter, of the American Red Cross for years. When Sandy approached, they didn’t wait to see what needed to be done.

“We filled sand bags before the storm hit and then opened shelters as the storm approached,” said Bob Rathbone. “I think we’ve taken 10 days off throughout the disaster.”

Sue and Bob also helped close those shelters as residents were moved to hotels and other temporary housing. They didn’t end their service there, they just moved to another function.

Now Sue and Bob, joined by Norma Himpler, work an ERV route delivering meals to residents in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. Norma, 84, is a retired nurse.

While Sue and Norma dish up the food in back, Bob takes to the loud speaker inviting everyone to come out and get a free meal provided by the American Red Cross. He then chats with residents to see how things are progressing in the clean up.

With big smiles and bigger hearts, it’s easy to see how much these three New Yorkers care for their neighbors. Maybe that’s why we all love New York.

STORY: “You guys rock!”

January 30, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Relief

On a frigid morning, a group of Red Cross volunteers mill about the parking lot of Aqueduct Race Track for just a short time before snapping into action under the direction of Red Cross volunteer, Nelson Valina, an active duty Colonel in the United States Marine Corps.

The food has arrived at Kitchen 2 and there is now much to be done. Like an efficient platoon of Marines, the volunteers take their place at the truck to quickly unload the day’s meals for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. They hurriedly take cambros of hot food and are then directed to the correct pallet by Col. Valina.

A makeshift cardboard chart shows where each pallet is located, making the unloading that much faster and more efficient. In a matter of minutes, the truck is unloaded, the pallets are filled with hot food and fresh fruit and the next phase of the mission begins.

During the brief down time when the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) drivers race off to get their vehicles, Col. Valina transforms from commanding officer to cheerleader. “You guys rock! You guys rock!” he shouts to the volunteers in the freezing temperatures. Everyone smiles, high-fives all around, the morale couldn’t be higher.

Time to switch gears again, there is still work to be done and the Colonel doesn’t easily forget that we’re here to do a job, we’re here to take care of people and fulfill the Red Cross mission. Now that the pallets are loaded, it’s time to load the ERVs heading out to the neighborhoods.

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