Hurricane Florence: People appreciate the help

Red Cross volunteer Elaine with a family at a shelter in North Carolina. Photo: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

“…all is well. I am loving this, so satisfying. The people have been so appreciative…” — Elaine, Red Cross volunteer

Many thanks to Elaine (in photo) and around 3,000 Red Cross disaster relief workers, including 62 from the Minnesota Red Cross, who are helping people affected by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina.

More national American Red Cross fast facts about our help:

  • Sunday night, more than 15,000 people sought refuge in more than 150 Red Cross and community shelters across the impacted region. This includes 14,200 people in 137 shelters in North Carolina.
  • Working with partners, the Red Cross has served 150,700 meals and snacks. We’re also working with the Southern Baptists to deploy field kitchens that together can produce 170,000 meals per day.
  •  The Red Cross is mobilizing more than 130 emergency response vehicles and more than 70 trailers of equipment and supplies, including ready-to-eat meals and enough cots and blankets for more than 100,000 people.
  • The storm has forced cancellation of more than 170 blood drives, resulting in more than 4,600 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

The Red Cross will continue to work around-the-clock to do everything possible to provide shelter, food, comfort and other emergency support to victims of Hurricane Florence.

Fast Facts are as of September 17, 2018

Red Cross blood drives every day at State Fair

Come late Summer, all roads for Minnesotans lead to the State Fair.

Red Cross is continuing its decade-long blood drive tradition at the Minnesota State Fair. The goal is to collect 100 units of blood every day of the 12-day event. One unit of blood can potentially save three people’s lives.

Why the State Fair?

Many fair-goers now notice for the stand-out bloodmobile for what has now become for some an “annual State Fair family blood donation tradition,” says Sue Thesenga, Communications Manager for the American Red Cross North Central Blood Services, covering a region with all of Minnesota and parts of Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Each such blood donation is coupled with a beautiful backstory says Sue, who recounts one such story of two friends who had never donated before decided to give together when they saw the Red Cross bloodmobile outside the Agriculture and Horticulture Building. Last year they were back to have their engagement photo taken next to the bloodmobile. Turns out, he was just her type!

The couple has given blood together twice since that first State Fair date, including a donation the day after they were engaged. They say it’s a fun way to celebrate, says Sue.

There are many similar stories of like one of a mother and daughter who have made it their annual fun activity together.  There are some who have had perfect attendance, having not missed a single State Fair blood drive.

It seems donating blood at the State Fair goes hand-in-hand with cookies, cheese-curds and corn-dogs.

Story by Sohini Sarkar, American Red Cross

Trucks roll in for GPS hardware upgrade

Response trucks from around the upper Midwest are rolling in to the American Red Cross in Minneapolis. The trucks are getting GPS hardware that allows for live tracking during relief efforts.

Live tracking will be especially helpful when trucks are bringing aid to remote areas. “They’ll be able to find us,” says Earl, a volunteer based in Wisconsin.

Earl became a volunteer after seeing the Red Cross helping people during Hurricane Charley in 2004. “Before that I didn’t give to the Red Cross,” says Earl. “During Charley I saw the other side.”

Earl was on the road for 100 days in 2016 and 60 days in 2017 bring disaster relief to people in need. This included after heavy flooding in Louisiana.

There, he found himself nearly trapped by rising high water on a rural road. “I realized I couldn’t get through,” says Earl about reaching a swamp area unexpectedly in a parish near Baton Rouge.

His childhood on a farm, he says, calms any fear he might have in tough situations. Simply, he’s a volunteer because he says, “I enjoy this.”

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

The Long Road Ahead: Iowa’s Tornadoes Relief Efforts

The American Red Cross continues its effort to assist affected families since devastating tornadoes ravaged parts of central Iowa on July 19. The tornadoes leveled homes, overturned cars, and injured people.

Jeff Thelen (on the right) from Minnesota is responding to the Iowa tornado relief
efforts with Red Cross volunteers from nearby states, including Ernesto Lindsey
from Illinois. (Photo courtesy of Jeff), July 2018

Red Cross aid workers from Minnesota were among some of the first to reach people in the affected communities. The team has deployed 15 aid workers including six employees and volunteers in senior disaster management roles.

Disaster assessment shows hundreds of homes have suffered major damage. The team is working extensively on first-hand activities in the field as well behind-the-scenes relief to bridge from emergency relief to long- term recovery.

Marshalltown is the most affected area and is serving as the recovery hub for the response. In that area,  Jeff Thelen, a Red Cross volunteer from Farmington, MN, has been instrumental in distributing relief supplies. Along with his friend Ernesto from Illinois, Jeff has been going home-to-home. Already they’ve reached more than 150 households.

Multi-agency recovery center for people affected by tornadoes, Marshalltown, Iowa, July 2018. Photo: Steve Bonine/American Red Cross

“It’s very easy to spot homes in need by mere sight,” Jeff says. Emphasizing the level of destruction, he says they sometimes exhaust their truckload relief supplies mid-way through the day due to the demand and eagerness of the people to reaching out to Red Cross for disaster relief.

Nearly 400 Red Cross workers have mobilized to deliver relief and
hope. This includes 15 aid workers from the Red Cross in Minnesota.

As of July 30, Red Cross cumulative response efforts include:

The Red Cross will continue helping affected communities on the long road ahead that comes with rebuilding life after a tornado. We will provide support as long as it’s needed.  Click here to learn more about the response.

Story by Sohini Sarkar, Red Cross Volunteer

2017 Disaster Relief: A Banner Year for Mission Fulfillment

American Red Cross emergency response vehicles traveled 2.5 million miles to deliver food, relief supplies and other support to communities affected by disasters during 2017.

2017 was a banner year for American Red Cross mission fulfillment. Following multiple major disasters ranging from hurricanes and wildfires to tragic mass shootings, Red Cross workers helped people in need, providing more food, relief supplies and shelter stays than all of the last four years combined.

The American Red Cross Minnesota Region had a vital role supporting relief efforts around the nation. Responders — more than 90 percent volunteers — deployed to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, California, and other locations. For example, our region supported 328 deployments, including 109 for the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts alone. Locally, Red Cross responders helped 952 people affected by 326 home fires.

Minnesota Red Cross volunteer Diane Dunder hands out meals in, Santa Rosa, California, during the wildfire relief effort, October 2017. Photo by Marko Kokic for the American Red Cross.

This year people were faced with major disasters and our region was there with deployments to disasters, working at home to support deployments, or providing direct relief to people impacted by disasters at home.

We are honored to serve alongside those from our region who provide humanitarian relief during times of great need. We are humbled by the dedication people have for the Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.  To see more local thanks, click here.

10 tips to keep home cozy all season long

Image credit: Gemma Correll

Home cooking is cozy.

Kitchen fires are not.

Use the 10 tips below to keep cozy all holiday season long.

1. Avoid wearing loose clothing or sleeves that dangle

2. Never leave frying, grilling or broiling food unattended

3. Check often simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food

4. Use a timer to remember the stove and oven are on

5. Keep kids and pets away from cooking area, especially the stove and oven

6. Place items that can catch fire – like pot holders, oven mitts, and wooden utensils – away from appliances that generate heat

7. Clean cooking surfaces frequently to prevent grease buildup

8. Have, and know how to use, a fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen

9. Make sure appliances, especially the stove and oven, are turned off before going to bed or leaving the home

10. Test smoke alarms. Need them? Click here.

Want more tips for emergencies? Click here to find and download free Red Cross First Aid and Pet First aid apps for your mobile devices.

Cheers! 

Veteran becomes Red Cross volunteer

Story by Kathleen Todd for the American Red Cross Minnesota Region

Sharon Azan (Credit: ARC/LynetteNyman)

On  Veterans Day, the American Red Cross honors people like Sharon Azan.

In 1985, Sharon Azan was stationed in Naples, Italy, with the United States Air Force when she got a call from the American Red Cross. Five thousand miles away, Azan’s uncle had passed away, and her family contacted the Red Cross to relay an urgent message about his death.

It was that one phone call—all those years ago—that recently prompted Azan to connect with the American Red Cross in Minnesota. Now, she’s training to become a Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer.

“I figured this was a good time for me to help someone else,” Azan says. “I am so appreciative of what the Red Cross does and what it stands for.”

For more than 100 years, the Red Cross has been hard at work supporting the men and women of the American armed forces. Today, no matter where American armed service members are in the world, the Red Cross is dedicated to delivering emergency communications messages through the American Red Cross Hero Care Network, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Minnesota State Veterans Day Celebration 2016 (Credit: ARC/LynetteNyman)

The Red Cross provides around 370,000 services each year to active-duty military, veterans, and their families—including more than 3,000 in Minnesota last fiscal year. In addition to emergency communications, the Minnesota Red Cross provides courses and workshops to help military families cope with life after deployments.

The Red Cross invites you to say “thanks” by signing and sending cards through Holidays for Heroes to U.S. military and veterans. Click here for information, including where cards to send cards, the program deadline, and other important guidelines for the cards.