Story: Rebuilding Joplin is a hot, dirty job; the Red Cross cautions “be safe”

July 5, 2011

This story is written by Red Cross volunteer Allen Crabtree.

Joplin Tornado 2011

Temperatures have been hitting 100° F in Joplin, MO this week. It is now 40 days after an EF5 tornado struck destroying more than 30% of the city. The entire region has responded to help the battered residents cleaning up debris and getting their lives back to normal, and the American Red Cross has been there from the day that the tornado hit with shelter, food and water, clean-up supplies and emotional support for Joplin’s residents.

The Red Cross has a double concern about residents and contractors working to clean up debris during this period of high heat advisories. Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs) have been distributing water and ice throughout neighborhoods and cautioning workers to be heat-safe and cleanup-safe.

“Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees,” said Brian Keath, Director of Emergency Services for the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross. “This week has been especially stressful for workers out in the heat raking and shoveling tornado debris. They need to be aware that they are susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses, and need to take care of themselves.”

“Our crew is demolishing several homes that the tornado destroyed,” said Gary Sommer, contractor from Osceola who has been working in Joplin for the last eleven days. “With this heat, we start work early in the morning and take breaks.” Following their own advice, Sommer and his three crewmates took a breather from their work to get cold drinks from the Red Cross ERV as it came down the street.

The American Red Cross recommends that everyone try to stay cool and safe during hot weather. Dress for the heat, drink plenty of water or juice, eat small meals and eat more often, slow down, work during the coolest part of the day, and look out for co-workers for signs of heat-related illnesses.

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Press Release: American Red Cross Transitions to Long Term Recovery Assistance for Joplin, Closes Shelter

July 1, 2011

American Red Cross Transitions to Long Term Recovery Assistance for Joplin, Closes Shelter

JOPLIN, MO., JUNE 30, 2011 – As the citizens of Joplin continue to recover from the tornado that devastated more than 30% of the city on May 22, 2011, the American Red Cross has transitioned its relief efforts from immediate disaster relief to long-term recovery efforts. It is working with more than 50 local, county, state and federal agencies and organizations to assist with long-term recovery in Joplin and surrounding communities.

As part of the immediate disaster relief effort, immediately after the tornado hit Joplin the Red Cross opened a shelter to house and feed citizens who had been impacted. Over the last few weeks people have been able to find other suitable accommodations and the need for the shelter has decreased. The last few individuals staying at the shelter have now left and the Red Cross has determined that the shelter is no longer needed. As a result the Red Cross shelter in Joplin will close its doors on Friday, July 1, 2011.

“We know that restoring the community to its pre-tornado vitality is a long-term process,” said Debi Meeds, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Greater Ozarks Chapter. “The American Red Cross was here immediately after the tornado to support our community, and now we are focusing our efforts on a community-wide collaborative effort with other relief organizations to support the longer term effort. The Red Cross will be here for the long-haul, working with our friends and neighbors in Joplin.”

As part of that effort, the Red Cross and other relief organizations have opened a Resource Center at 1110 E. Seventh St., Suite 13, in Joplin. Citizens affected by the tornado can receive disaster recovery assistance there, including health services and mental health assistance, as well as recovery case management.

The Center is open Monday through Friday from 9am till 5pm and on Saturdays from 9am till 3 pm. It is closed on Sundays. Over the 4th of July weekend the Center will be closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday but will reopen on Tuesday, July 5. Information can also be obtained by calling 866-206-0256.
The local Greater Ozarks Chapter of the Red Cross will also continue to respond to local emergencies, such as house fires, and provide the blood services, lifesaving skills teaching and preparedness educational efforts to our community that it has grown to depend on.


Fast Facts: Joplin Tornado Response

June 27, 2011

The following information shows our total service delivery since May 22, when a tornado struck Joplin, Mo., and neighboring communities:


Fast Facts: Spring Storms Response

June 15, 2011

The statistics below reflect total American Red Cross service deliveries since the beginning of major spring storm response on March 31st. This includes:

Tornadoes in Kentucky, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Iowa, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, Missouri, Massachusetts.

Flooding in Tennessee, Vermont, New York, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa.

Wildfires in Texas

To date, the Red Cross has:


Video: Joplin Red Cross Shelter Transitioning to Smaller Location

June 14, 2011

Fast Facts: Tornado Response in Massachusetts

June 13, 2011

The following information shows our total service delivery since the beginning of the response to tornado damage in Massachusetts:


Photos: Tornado in Massachusetts

June 9, 2011

These photos are taken by Red Cross disaster volunteer Craig Cooper.

ERV Team with McCurry Family

IMG_7106 ERV Team Offloading ERV to load APAT Vehicle Monson Crushed Cars

See entire “Monson MA Tornado” set on Flickr >>


Story: Many hands made Minneapolis tornado clean-up day possible

June 7, 2011

This post was written by Bill Fitler, a Red Cross volunteer. This is also cross-posted from the Twin Cities Area Chapter blog.

Minneapolis Tornado 2011
Paul Vanderheiden is among more than 340 Red Cross disaster relief workers responding to the May 22 tornado in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

When volunteers arrived for their shifts during the Minneapolis tornado clean-up day on June 4, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer likely received them, a Salvation Army worker probably handed them a meal, and American Red Cross responder gave them bandage packs, gloves, and other useful field supplies such as hand sanitizer and sunscreen.

Once in the disaster area, workers might have made contact with Red Cross mobile feeding trucks supporting the workers on what felt like the first day of summer.

“We’re out here to make sure these folks have enough water and snacks in all this heat,” said Paul Vanderheiden, a Red Cross volunteer from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Parking his van near a group of workers, Paul offered them advice. “Make sure you get some salt. Want some chips with that?”

Paul and fellow volunteer Chris Thomsen had been driving their mobile feeding vehicle around these neighborhoods every day since they had arrived the previous Saturday.

“Back home I’m a surgical nurse,” said Chris. “This is the first time I’ve worked outside the chapter on a disaster. We’ve been out here long enough so I’m starting to know folks, and I’ve been so touched by some of the stories I’ve heard.”

Paul and Chris are among more than 340 Red Cross workers, from as far away as California and Connecticut, helping people affected by the Minneapolis tornado.

To date, Red Cross disaster relief workers have distributed more than 145,000 meals and snacks to affected families and clean-up crews responding to this tornado disaster.


Fast Facts: Tornado Response in Massachusetts

June 7, 2011

The following information shows our total service delivery since the beginning of the response to tornado damage in Massachusetts:


Fast Facts: Tornado in Minneapolis

June 6, 2011

The statistics below reflect total American Red Cross service deliveries since the beginning of the response to the tornado in Minneapolis on May 22nd.

To date, the Red Cross has:


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