Story: Six Stranger, One Mission

November 14, 2012

Story by Giselle Gomez

It was 11:00 am and the sun was attempting to pierce through the foggy sky in Lido Beach, Long Island.  With a huge smile on her face, Faye Lagares of Queens, NY began loading food, water and comfort kits filled with blankets, trash bags and other items into Red Cross vehicles.  Faye, who works for Citibank, is a brand new volunteer.  Citibank’s volunteer program is dedicated to connecting their employees with volunteer opportunities in their communities.

“A request came in for around 50 volunteers and in a matter of hours every slot was filled,” said Faye.  “Many of our employees were affected [by Sandy] and I just felt I needed to do something.”

Jessica Fleurimond from Philadelphia, Steve Brown from Texas, Giselle Gomez from California, Kabir Tombat, an AmeriCorps member currently working with the Greater New York Red Cross Chapter and Red Cross Long Island Board Member Joel Greenberg, all joined Faye, going door to door throughout Lido Beach distributing meals and supplies.

One of the team’s main goals was to reach senior citizens living in high-rise apartments who still did not have power.  At each building, the group divided into teams of two, going to floor-to-floor and ensuring that all residents received food, water, blankets and supplies.

“It was just truly incredible how we all quickly came together to help,” said Giselle Gomez.  “At the end of the day, we were not strangers, but instead a family.”


Story: Hurricane Earl Volunteers Arrive

September 2, 2010

This story is written by Red Cross worker Autum Mihm from the Cape Fear chapter of the American Red Cross.

Wilmington, NC, September 2, 2010- The American Red Cross continues preparations for Hurricane Earl as it approaches the East Coast of the United States. The Cape Fear Chapter in Wilmington, NC currently has 115 local staff and volunteers and 15 visiting Red Cross disaster relief workers supporting preparedness activities and on standby for response to hurricane impacted areas.

Nearly 50 members of the Cape Fear Chapter Disaster Leadership Team packed into the chapters training room last night for a meeting to welcome the incoming volunteers and to discuss disaster response plans for Hurricane Earl. The Cape Fear Chapter has many dedicated volunteers on the DLT and is thankful for the additional volunteers who traveled from around the Carolinas to assist during this operation.

Here are a few of the visiting volunteers who arrived in Wilmington yesterday to assist with hurricane relief operations:

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Story: Bilingual Mental Health Volunteer Helps Residents in TN

May 17, 2010

Tennessee Floods 2010
Kate Cavanaugh counsels Sierra Rider as Juan Arevalo naps behind them at the Ed Rice Community Center Red Cross Shelter in Memphis, TN.

Kate Cavanaugh volunteers for the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Red Cross in Kansas City, Missouri and is returning home from her first mission at the American Red Cross Tennessee Floods National Disaster Relief Operation.

Cavanaugh is a licensed bilingual social worker who came on board of the operation as a mental health worker. As she deplaned in Memphis, she called the Red Cross hotline and told the assignment desk that she spoke Spanish fluently. She was asked to report directly to the Ed Rice Shelter in Memphis where a large Hispanic shelter population was climbing.

For the next ten days Cavanaugh spent every day long into the evening at the shelter. Shelter manager, Sharon Lowery described her as, “blessed to have Kate joined at my hip because of her bilingual abilities, her big heart and her mental health background.”

There at the Ed Rice Shelter, Cavanaugh bore witness to a great deal of stories as she counseled families about their escape from rapidly rising flood waters. As she bridged both communication and cultural gaps, she helped ensure shelter residents that their stay in Red Cross shelter would be safe.

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Story: Tornado Victim Sees Red Cross in a New Light

May 13, 2010

This story was written by Red Cross worker Tamica Smith-Jeuitt.

Mississippi Tornadoes 2010
Tamica Smith-Jeuitt and Robert Lee Woods pictured at University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Lee Woods knows first hand that Red Cross donations are getting to the people who need it, but he admits that he did not always feel this way, “I was probably like a lot of people who say they aren’t giving that money to people, but now I know and it’s been a big help for me and my family,” he said.

The 25-year-old was living in a home with his aunt and uncle prior to the tornado that destroyed their house in Yazoo City, Mississippi. The storm nearly cost Lee his life, and ended his hopes of becoming a firefighter.

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Story: Three Families Find Help In Shelter

May 5, 2010

How do you know when you are experiencing the worst day of your life? Sherrie Yates is certain that Sunday’s flood in Nashville was the most terrifying thing to ever happen to her.

Sherrie was sleeping at 7 a.m. when her young niece woke her up shouting, “There’s water in the house!” Sherrie stepped out of bed into several inches of water. She quickly gathered her five children onto her bed and called 911. They watched in fear as the water rose and rose, eventually covering the bed. “The kids were crying,” she said. Eventually, they were evacuated by boat.

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Story: Family of Six Finds Shelter in Tennessee

May 5, 2010

This story is written by Red Cross volunteer Gerry Holmes.

Tennessee Floods 2010

Breland and Janene Scott and their four children moved in to their rented home just five weeks ago, many boxes still unpacked when the storm hit on Saturday. Breland was at work, leaving Janene alone with their three daughters and three-year-old son home watching the heavy rain fall. They were laughing about the loud thunder claps when one of the girls called her mother over to the window. “Look, mommy, she said, it’s flooding outside.” She looked outside and, “Sure enough the water was up to the top of our porch, “ she said.

She immediately called her husband at work and he rushed home. By the time he got there the water was knee deep and they gathered up their kids, sent mother ahead to the car and Breland began to carry the kids out one by one. By the time he got the last one to their mother in the car, the water was chest deep on the street and he’s 6’ 4”.

“We just had enough time to grab one bag of belongings,” Janene said. That included one very wet baby book, which now had even more emotional value. “We literally lost everything we owned, including the children’s school books (the bright and energetic daughters were being homeschooled by their mother, who had previously taught school at the high school and college level).

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Story: Hope Valley Residents Face Disaster With Help From Red Cross

April 4, 2010

This story was written by American Red Cross disaster volunteer Pat Pannett.

Rhode Island Floods 2010
State Senators Edward O’Neill and Francis Maher, Jr., volunteers with the Red Cross disaster assessment team survey a submerged residence in the devastated Hope Valley Wyoming area of Richmond, RI.

It’s called Hope Valley, and the residents of the Hope Valley Wyoming have shown great resiliency and not lost their sense of hope and optimism in the face of dire circumstances.

On the afternoon of April 2, members of the Red Cross disaster assessment team (including two State Senators) travelled with Hope Valley Wyoming Fire District and Rhode Island National Guard to survey an area that was heavily hit by the March floods in the state.

The affected area in Richmond, Rhode Island was heavily flooded, and the only way in and out of this community of 80 homes was by crossing a road covered by more than a foot of water. Fortunately, the National Guard ‘deuce and a half” cargo truck was designed to cross areas where even Humvees were not be able to traverse. At one point, the team traversed a road flooded with more than three feet of water.

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