The American Red Cross is staffing the reunification center for Colorado residents (and animals) who were evacuated from their homes today.
— Larry (@OCPIO) September 16, 2013
— Nina Sparano (@NinaSparano) September 16, 2013
When the Carter family of Peeple’s Valley, Ariz., had to abandon their home in the face of the Yarnell Hill wildfire, they took what was most precious with them: eight dogs and two cats.
The entire household has found refuge at Yavapai Community College in Prescott, where the American Red Cross and Animal Disaster Services have teamed up to run side-by-side shelters for humans and pets. For more than 10 years, the partnership has been key to getting pet-lovers to leave home when necessary, because they know their animals will be welcome and well cared for right next door to where they are sheltering.
The Carter family initially went to stay with a friend in Yarnell, but when raging flames threatened that community, they had just half an hour to flee. Sheriff’s deputies directed them to the Red Cross shelter, where there would also be food, water and the compassion of caring volunteers.
“The Red Cross folks make you feel at home,” Carter said, “even when you don’t know if you have a home to go back to.”
Meanwhile, three grandsons and a granddaughter make sure Hunter, Poppy and Cadden get plenty of exercise and affection. Latere, they’ll turn their attention to the four puppies and to the cats.
“People won’t leave their pets behind,” Carter said firmly. “This set-up is great. It’s good for the animals and it’s good for the people.”
By Taylor Kelling and Jonathan McNamara
On May 20th, 2013 Ed and Diane Steiner returned to their home in Moore, OK after a normal day. Their house was soon rocked by a devastating EF-5 tornado that severely damaged their home and destroyed most of the structures in their neighborhood. The Steiners survived the tornados in a small closet, the most interior room of their home. “It was pretty fast after we got home… he heard the tornado… you could feel the house being torn apart and I think that tiny space saved us” said Diane Steiner. The Steiner’s were trapped in the closet for about thirty minutes until a woman came to help them break out of the debris.
In the days since the tornado, the Steiners have been impressed by the response from the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross, everyday that I have been here, the Red Cross truck and the volunteers have been up and down the street on an hourly basis” said Ed Steiner, “I know they had 17 miles to take care of… theres 17 miles of destruction… and they are still the same folks… no matter where you are at there is a Red Cross truck.”
The Steiners, who are Red Cross donors, have been amazed how far their donor dollar goes. “You know you give to the Red Cross and you don’t really know where its going… but we’ve been able to see it first hand.” said Diane Steiner.
For more information about the American Red Cross response to the Oklahoma tornadoes, visit redcross.org and follow us on twitter @redcrossokc.
Red Cross Disaster Worker Butch Cooper of Arkansas and 13-year-old Duane Reese unload supplies at an aid station at the Southgate Pentecostal Church in Moore, OK. Photo credit: Jecoliah Ellis/American Red Cross
Written by Brian Scoles
BREEZY POINT, N.Y. – Love, Peace, Joy. The words echo a 1960s street demonstration. A drive around Breezy Point, N.Y., reveals scenes out of a battle-ravaged village in World War II Europe.
But this is 2013, and the location with the cheerful name is just a dozen miles from downtown New York City. The words “Love” “Peace” and “Joy” decorate hundreds of brightly painted Stars of HOPE scattered throughout an ocean-front area devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
American Red Cross volunteers see the stars every day as they deliver hot meals to hundreds of residents still without electricity and water – some without their homes – even now, nearly three months after screaming winds, monumental tidal surges and out-of-control fires ripped through this bungalow community.
“The color is such a bright contrast to the black and grey of charred homes and trees, and the ashen remains of what was once someone’s home,” said one Red Cross disaster worker. “They command your attention and deliver their messages of hope.”
As the Red Cross has shifted its Sandy response from immediate emergency needs to long-term recovery, volunteers know that encouragement and emotional support are vital for community restoration. Trained Red Cross disaster mental health workers continue to meet with storm victims, to assess their needs and, if necessary, refer them to local mental health services.
Meanwhile, Stars of HOPE is lending a hand to the recovery effort. The non-profit organization was founded in 2007 after a F5 tornado ravaged Greensburg, Kansas. Stars of HOPE works with schools and community leaders in a disaster-affected community to enlist children to paint inspirational words and messages on plywood stars and decorate them in bright colors.
The purpose of the stars is to bring color into a devastated area and to re-instill a sense of hope and community. Each town that receives stars then paints stars for the next town that experiences a disaster. Breezy Point received some of its stars from Minot, N.D. and local New York school children.
Day by day, storm-ravaged communities in Queens are seeing public services and commercial activity restored, allowing more people to resume normal lives.
However, an estimated 1,900 people are still living in hotels or other temporary housing; many others are struggling financially because their workplaces were crippled by the storm. The Red Cross and its partner organizations are delivering thousands of meals a day to meet feeding needs.
Meanwhile, Red Cross nurses and counselors are increasingly seeing survivors struggling with the emotional toll of months of storm impact; Red Cross Community Partner Services and Red Cross caseworkers are working hard at connecting people with financial and other resources they need to regain their independence.
So, while the Stars of HOPE shine throughout Breezy Point, the Red Cross patiently continues its disaster response, made possible by the financial donations and volunteer generosity of the American people.
Looking out over the setting sun on Beech Street in the Rockaways, Dorinda Nicholson estimated the distance from where she stood to the Hurricane Sandy disaster zone measured about the same as her childhood home to the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Nicholson, then a first grader at Sacred Hearts Convent School on Oahu, was asleep in bed with her dog, Hula Girl, when the Japanese planes came raining down on the naval base – about a mile from her parents house – and the oily black smoke ascended from battleship row. Seventy-one years later, Nicholson, a psychotherapist from Kansas City, walked the streets of Long Beach with the other members of the Red Cross Integrated Care Team knocking on doors and looking for Hurricane Sandy survivors who still needed help and support.
“You never believe something like this is going to happen to you – it’s the same feeling I had during Pearl Harbor,” said Nicholson, carrying a clipboard and copies of the Red Cross’ booklet Moving Forward After a Disaster. “Every disaster has a different feel to it, but there’s always the shaking of that sense of control you thought you had over your life and then sorting things out and reprioritizing.
“It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here. I knew people needed to hear from someone who had that experience, too.”