Story: Getting Supplies to Clients in Colorado

September 23, 2013

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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.


Update: Using Safe and Well

September 18, 2013


Story: “When I Close My Eyes, I Hear Water”

September 17, 2013

Story by American Red Cross Volunteer, Catherine Barde

Eldin and Audrey Myer, married 53 years and lifelong Colorado residents, lost their home in the devastating flood waters in Evans, Colorado. They found themselves in one of many shelters opened across Colorado as safe place for people to stay along with blankets, cots, food, comfort and emotional support.

“We got taken out on a boat – the water was over our fence,” Eldin recalled. They watched their home surrounded by a wall of water as they left.  Trees, barrels and tires filled the turbulent water as the boat carried them to safety.  John Betz, their nephew, lost his home next door and shared his photo of their rescue.

Eldin and Audrey were escorted to the local hospital and then found shelter at the Greeley Recreation Center.  Red Cross Health Services has continued to monitor their medication needs and blood pressure.

“We have lost everything including our pets, we just had no time to get anything except Eldin’s cane and my purse,” Audrey said.

“When I close my eyes, I see water, I hear water”,  Audrey Myer said, as tears welled up in her eyes. “When you have lost everything, it is so great to come to the Red Cross shelter. There is a nurse, personal items, shampoo and toiletries. We are so grateful.”

HOW TO HELP:

VOLUNTEERING: At this time, the American Red Cross of Colorado is fortunate to have volunteers who are trained, ready and willing to support our response to the flooding in our communities. We thank individuals and community groups who are willing to support this effort and encourage them to register to become new volunteers to help with future disaster responses. They can find all relevant information at http://www.redcross.org/co/denver/volunteer.

Should the situation change or worsen, we will update information on our website and in press releases to indicate whether we are accepting volunteers to help with this response.

In Kind Donations: The Red Cross does not accept donated items at their shelters. People with items to donate are urged to go to www.helpcoloradonow.org to find out where supplies are needed.

DONATE: The Red Cross is able to respond to a widespread disaster affecting numerous communities because of the generosity of donors. If you would like to support our work responding to these and other disasters, donate online at www.redcross.org/donate or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

PREPARE YOURSELF AND YOUR COMMUNITY: One of the best ways to take action right now if you are not personally affected by the flooding is to prepare yourself, your loved ones and/or your workplace. When you are prepared, you contribute to your community’s ability to withstand and recover from disasters. Find out more and start making your emergency Game Plan by visiting our National Preparedness Month information page: http://www.redcross.org/news/event/National-Preparedness-Month—Colorado.

KEEP IN TOUCH: If you live in an affected community, please notify your loved ones of your status via text, phone, e-mail or social media. In addition, list your status on www.safeandwell.org. You may also search for people on the site.

 


Story: Tuscaloosa Tornado to Colorado Flood

September 17, 2013

Caroline and family

 

Caroline McLowhorn, married to Jason Burkart, two daughters Jasmine Burkart 12 and Jo-Jo Burkart 1

Two years ago during the F5 Tuscaloosa Alabama tornadoes, Caroline thought she’d see it all.  Three of her friends died in the tornado, and she wanted to start a new chapter for her family.

Her husband Jason came out to Longmont first.  He found a beautiful community and plenty of work, so last week he called his wife and kids to make the journey.  Two months pregnant with two kids in the car, Caroline made the cross country trip to rejoin her husband.  She had to stop at hospitals in Kansas and Colorado due to a pelvic infection, but she eventually made it…just a few short days before the flood.

When her husband’s apartment got flooded, they moved into a hotel, but after six days, their bank account was empty, so they turned to the Red Cross shelter for food, housing, and support.  Jasmine made fast friends with the other young girls in the shelter, and everyone doted on Jo-Jo.

Late Monday night, they were able to find temporary housing free for the next two weeks.  Every pregnant mother deserves her own bed and a little privacy, so while we’ll miss our new friends, we’re always glad when our shelter residents find a new home.


Reunification in Colorado

September 16, 2013

The American Red Cross is staffing the reunification center for Colorado residents (and animals) who were evacuated from their homes today.


VIDEO: Lucero

September 16, 2013


Disaster Alert: Civil Disturbance in Colorado

July 20, 2012

Disaster Alert

Colorado– A gunman entered into a movie theatre in Arapahoe County and opened fire on scores of patrons early Friday morning. Multiple fatalities and injuries reported.

The Mile High Chapter has deployed team members, provided mental health assistance, assisted and provided canteen services to movie patrons as well as emergency responders.


Story: Bringing Disaster Relief to those in need

July 16, 2012

This story is written by Red Cross volunteer Allen Crabtree.

The job of the Red Cross has not changed

“…My work was, and chiefly has been to get timely supplies to those needing,” said Clara Barton in an interview published in the New York Sun on January 10, 1908. “It has taught me the value of Things. They have lost all. They want food, clothing, shelter, medicines, and a few calm practical persons to administer them. This seems to have been my work.”

The early American Red Cross, under Clara Barton’s leadership, relied on wagons and ambulances drawn by horses and mules to deliver supplies and comfort to wounded Union soldiers in the US Civil War. Starting with a voluntary, independent relief organization to collect and distribute supplies to the wounded from the first battle of Bull Run, she was able to convince US Surgeon General William A. Hammond to issue her a general pass in July 1862 to travel with army ambulances “for the purpose of distributing comforts for the sick and wounded and nursing them.”

Barton collected some relief articles herself, appealed to the public for others, and learned how to store and distribute them. Besides supplies, Barton offered personal support to the men in hopes of keeping their spirits up: she read to them, wrote letters for them, listened to their personal problems, and prayed with them.

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In the 150 years since the fledgling American Red Cross started providing relief to those in need, the mission has not changed but the methods and techniques have evolved with the times. Today the Red Cross responds to natural and man-made disasters with a fleet of Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) and trained relief workers. These red and white “box” trucks, emblazoned with the American Red Cross logo and “Disaster Relief”, are mobile feeding and supply vehicles that carry food, water, and cleanup supplies directly to residents in neighborhoods that have been affected by fires, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. The disaster relief work being done following the most destructive wildfires that Colorado has ever seen that affected thousands of families and homes is a good example of the continuing work of the Red Cross first begun by Clara Barton.

Organizing the ERV Relief Effort

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It takes a coordinated effort of many hands to field ERVs into the neighborhoods where they are needed for effective disaster relief. It begins with the call to assemble crews and deploy individual ERVs from their home chapters to the disaster scene, often many states away. Once in the disaster area, it takes the talent and organizing skills of someone like Todd Vesely to pull it all together.

“My job as the ERV manager on the Colorado wildfires operation is to see the jobs that need to be done and then get it done,” said Vesely.

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Vesely is the key to assigning crews to individual ERVs, making assignments for their routes and the supplies that they will carry, organizing the stocking of each ERV and the movement of supplies from the warehouse to where they are needed, monitoring the maintenance and paperwork to keep the fleet of vehicles running, handling the personnel issues that are inevitable with a large crew of volunteers, and getting everything done on schedule. He also works with others at the Disaster Relief headquarters to coordinate assignments for outreach teams including client case workers, mental health workers and health workers who are also providing services to devastated neighborhoods. Vesely works with the Red Cross’ external partners to confirm which neighborhoods will be opened to returning residents and Red Cross crews.

Vesely has been a volunteer with the Nebraska chapter of the Red Cross for 1 ½ years, following his retirement after 20 years in the US Marine Corps. This is his fourth disaster deployment with the Red Cross.

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“I started as an ERV driver and must have done something right,” said Vesely, “because they keep asking me to do more. I am now managing the ERV program here for the Colorado Springs wildfires.”

His motto for running an efficient, smooth operation? “A little praise goes a long way,” said Vesely. “Our volunteers are already motivated to help others – I just try to set the stage so that they can do their jobs, praise them when they do them right, and help point them in the right direction when there are problems. There are very few problems with our volunteers – they are a great bunch of people.”

He added that the Red Cross family reminds him in many ways of his service family – dedicated to getting the job done.

Clara Barton and her early American Red Cross workers would be proud of the work that Vesely and the other volunteers have been doing to provide relief in the aftermath of the devastating Colorado wildfires. It is, after all, the work that she chose to do, and which the Red Cross today continues.


Story: John Gardner begins the recovery

July 13, 2012

This story is written by Red Cross volunteer Bill Fortune.


When John Gardner first heard about the Waldo Canyon Fire and the potential for evacuation he and his wife did the right thing. They packed some things and left their home. That was Saturday, June 23rd. After staying in a hotel for a couple of days they decided to return to their home on Monday June 25th. Feeling safe up to that point they unpacked and settled back in their home. However, that turned out to be a short visit. The very next day they saw flames coming over the ridge and fled for their lives. They had to move fast and grabbed whatever they could. Their home was a total loss, including the restored 1962 Jaguar convertible that was in the garage. John was in good spirits on Thursday, June 12, when he and family members were working their way through the ashes. They had found a few items including his wife’s jewelry box but weren’t expecting to find much more. “I have come to terms with the loss” John said, “We got out and that is what matters most. Everything else can be replaced.”

I asked John if, prior to the fire, he had followed one of the Red Cross preparedness tasks that suggested taking video of his home and belongings for later reference. He said that he had done that a few years back but in the haste to leave he left without taking it. “That will be high on my list for next time”, he said, “That and to pack a kit with some clothes in it. All we had was what we were wearing.” John and his family were grateful for the Red Cross support especially the water, masks, and work gloves. “Just knowing that you folks are here makes a difference.” John said as he turned to get back to the work of recovery.


In a driveway down the street from John’s home someone had placed burnt bricks in the shape of a heart. Just another sign of the compassion that is prevalent in this community.


Story: Not the greatest thing to come home to

July 12, 2012

This story is written by Red Cross Volunteers Bill Fortune and Chuck Bennett.

Jon Wells was in Europe traveling with his daughter, Alexandra, when the Waldo Canyon fire started. They were in France as part of a U.S. Ambassador musician tour and Alexandra had just played the first of many concerts when the call came in to tell them of the status of their home. Jon and his daughter live in the Mountain Shadows area where more than 350 homes were destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire. We met Jon on Monday, July 9 at the Red Cross Bulk Distribution Site that was set up not far from his home. Jon was there, like so many other Mountain Shadow residents, to get water and bulk cleaning supplies like shovels, rakes, gloves and face masks so that he could begin the process of going through the debris. “I really appreciate that the Red Cross is here to help.” He said. ” I didn’t know where to start and the Red Cross gave me some of the tools that I need, as well as useful information about how to do it.”

While at the Bulk Distribution Center, Jon was also able to talk with Red Cross stress management workers and ERV drivers about the importance of personal safety when working in the burned area. “I really was at a loss until I talked with the Red Cross volunteers.”, he said, “The first thing I need to do is to buy some work boots and work clothes.”

Not much is left of Jon’s home but he was able to salvage the ceramic casting of his daughter’s baby shoes. “Everything else at the house is a mess but I found the shoes right away.”, He said, “They mean a lot to me.” Red Cross workers found plastic bags and helped him wrap the shoe casting for safe keeping.

Jon said, “Now, I need to stay busy while I think about moving forward. It is so great to see the big red and white trucks driving around the area. It makes me feel that there is hope and help when I need it. “


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