Two States + Two Disasters = One Team

Mary Gagnon

Mary Gagnon

For six non-stop weeks, the Texas weather was dreadful. Residents were experiencing multiple tornadoes, large hail, heavy rainfall and flooding causing the dams to breach. More than 100 counties were affected by this treacherous weather. (Wisconsin only has 72-counties; so this was a massive area) American Red Cross chapters throughout Texas helped residents affected by opening 60 shelters, served more than 350,000 meals and snacks and engaged 2,300 trained Red Cross responders. Wisconsin provided 42 responders; this is the first-hand story of our own Mary Gagnon.

 

On June 15, the Red Cross asked my husband Dean and I to deploy to Houston, Texas to help with disaster relief. Both of us volunteer with the Red Cross and reside in Texas AND Wisconsin. We arrived on the 16th and were reminded immediately of the heat and humidity that sends us back north each spring.

After a week of providing shelter and food near Houston, we were reassigned to the Rio Grande Valley, near the tip of Texas. Coincidentally, this general area is where we live during the winter. And our ‘hometown’ Red Cross Chapter there became headquarters.Flooded road, Edinburg, TX

There were so many people with so few personal resources. Residents told us of flood waters three feet deep in their homes and side streets were impassable for days. When we found an unflooded driveway, we parked the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), which contained water, food and hygiene kits. There, we asked people to phone neighbors down the street to let them know we were there to help. Invariably, word travelled fast, and people lined-up to receive what they needed and wanted: hot food, bottled water, Clorox, shovels and mosquito repellant.

Cruz Roja at Edinburg shelter

When there were still items remaining in the ERV, which is a large ambulance sized vehicle so we could haul large amounts of supplies, we drove to a nearby street and started the process again.

Steve Stringer with Cruz Roja in Edinburg-2

The American Red Cross increased its staffing resources when Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) arrived. As the flooding decreased and people could get out of their homes, the Cruz Roja site provided necessary cleaning materials and, just as importantly, the ability to respond in Spanish to needs and stories provided by those flooded out of their homes. We felt fortunate to work with Cruz Roja! They understood the community needs; the difficulties of the weather and the support needed to bring back ‘normalcy’ to Hidalgo and Cameron Counties.

picmonkey_image

The following week, on our way back to the local Red Cross Chapter to re-fill our ERV with cases of water and clean-up materials, we stopped at a gas station. The search-and-distribute system of helping home owners during the recent Texas floods brought much-needed supplies directly to people considering the scorching 96 degree weather. This system created a need for us to get just a few minutes of rest. An ice cream bar and air conditioning altered my core temperature just enough to make getting back on the road OK. But it was the unexpected ‘coolness’ of hearing The Spinners singing on the store’s music system that recouped my energy! With only the bathroom mirror watching, I danced to ‘Rubber Band Man’ with all of my best ‘60s and 70s moves.

And Coolness was achieved.

IMG_20150713_192607661_HDR2

Upon returning to Wisconsin for the ‘summer’ they were deployed to Columbus, Wisconsin to open an evacuation center/shelter for people affected by the July 13th 90-mile per hour winds. Two (states) plus two (disasters) really can equal ONE RED CROSS. To begin your own Red Cross adventure, please check here for volunteer opportunities.

Thank You to Walmart for Their Support of Disaster Relief

Walmart Mutual St. 2

When Northeast Wisconsin was impacted by SIX tornadoes and straight line winds in August, friends, neighbors and local organizations jumped in to help those in need.  The Walmart store (#1982) in Appleton on Mutual Way is still helping.

Michael Queen, Shift Manager, presented Betsy Wandtke, Major Gifts Officer, with a check for $1,000 for Disaster Relief.  The presentation was made during the store’s grand opening after the major remodeling project.  The event was attended by other store managers, employees and organizations also getting support for their causes.  It was an energetic and uplifting meeting.

We want to thank Walmart for their support of the community not only during the disaster, but after as well.  We couldn’t do what we do without their help!

How the Red Cross is helping!

A house in the Freedom area destroyed by the tornadoes.

A house in the Freedom area destroyed by the tornadoes.

The early morning of August 7, 2013 Northeast Wisconsin was hit with five tornadoes, confirmed by the National Weather Service causing power outages, damage to homes and businesses, and leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Red Cross workers where immediately called to action to respond to those impacted by the tornadoes and storms. Our support, to those impacted, continues as some are just starting to get their power restored.

As of Aug 8, our total response includes:

  • Serving 4,920 meals and snacks to those impacted.
  • Distribution of 7,500 pounds of ice.
  • Three shelters open (Wrightstown, Appleton and New London) for people to receive water, food, ice, a place to stay, and a place to charge electronics.
  •  Two mobile feeding trucks going out into the impacted communities delivering water, ice, snacks, sandwiches, and gloves.
  • 72 Red Cross workers responding to those in need.
Volunteer, Chris Worm, from Fond du Lac, giving out water and sandwiches to those in need.

Volunteer, Chris Worm, from Fond du Lac, giving out water and sandwiches to those in need.

Red Cross will be sending two mobile feeding trucks this afternoon, and over the weekend to the communities of Wrightstown, Freedom, Appleton, Hortonville and New London. These trucks will have water, ice, snacks, sandwiches and gloves to distribute to those in need.

Our shelter in Wrightstown closed as of 9:30am, Thursday, August 8 and our New London shelter closed at 1:00pm today. The Appleton shelter, located at Appleton West HS, 1610 Badger Ave, will be closed at 7:00pm tonight.

Individuals can pick up ice and supplies at the Appleton shelter until 7:00pm today or at our Appleton Office, located at 1302 E. Wisconsin Ave until 4:00pm today.

If you need help due to storm/tornado damage throughout Northeast Wisconsin, please call 1-800-236-8680 for assistance. Disaster teams are ready to help you with your immediate emergency needs.

Want to see pictures of our volunteers in action?  Check out our flickr site:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/newredcross/

If you would like to make a financial gift please go to: http://www.redcross.org, or call 1-800-Red-Cross (1-800-733-2767)

Thanks to Great Partners Red Cross is Prepared

May 29, 2012 to support Wisconsin and Michigan bordering communities relief efforts, American Red Cross Chapters throughout Wisconsin received 11 Briggs & Stratton generators and 13 pressure washers as part of a large donation to support the organization preparedness and response to disasters and emergencies.

Briggs & Stratton donated generator being used to power our Appleton Red Cross office.

Briggs & Stratton donated generator being used to power our Appleton Red Cross office.

Today we are putting that donation to good use. The American Red Cross is not immune from disasters. Our Appleton office, located at 1302 E. Wisconsin Ave, was impacted by the Northeast Storms and lost power early this morning and is currently still without power at 1:00pm today.

Staging area at the Appleton office for our feeding operation.

Staging area at the Appleton office for our feeding operation.

Thanks to the generosity of Briggs & Stratton we are able to power our Appleton office by generator so we are able to use this facility as a central hub in coordinating our disaster efforts across Northeast Wisconsin. This storm is very wide spread including the cities of Manitowoc, De Pere, Green Leaf, Wrightstown, Appleton, New London, Freedom, Hortonville and many other communities. Having a functional central office location is critical in being able to respond to the needs of those impacted.

The Briggs & Stratton gift is not only helping Wisconsin and the Michigan boarder communities be prepared but also across our nation.

The donation by Briggs & Stratton included 847 generators and 483 pressure washers to Red Cross chapters in disaster-prone locations across the United States and Puerto Rico. The generators can supply power at disaster shelters and service centers during relief operations and even power devices within our chapter’s offices. The pressure washers will ensure a high level of cleanliness for washing cots, food containers and other cleaning projects.

You can read the full story of the Briggs & Stratton donation by clicking  HERE .

Are YOU Prepared if This Happened to YOU??

30 Neenah homes, businesses lose water service

Neenah crews work on the water supply, Aug. 5, 2013, in an area of the city where coliform bacteria was found. Photo courtesy WLUK/Chad Doran

The American Red Cross will have water available for residents affected by the water shut off until they are able to get water back into their home.  If this happened to you, would you be prepared?

The Red Cross is here to make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be for potential disasters and other emergencies. These events can strike suddenly, at anytime and anywhere. There are three actions everyone can take that can help make a difference.

Be Red Cross Ready Checklist

To learn more about disaster planning or to download our Red Cross preparedness apps go to:   http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps

“Songs of the Season” Benefiting the American Red Cross

IvoryWind at the Steakhouse 024 “Songs of the Season”

A Candlelight Performance

Ivory Wind with Strings

Joyce Josie, Piano    Ann Stevens, Flute      Laurie Young, Violin

Saturday, December 8th

Time: 6:30 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church of Weyauwega

200 South Pine Street

BENEFITING THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

Free Will Offering

to support Disaster Relief and Service to the Armed Forces

Picture  yourself  in  a  quiet  sanctuary,  candles  glowing  in  each  window  and  the  lights  of  the  Christmas  tree  softly  shining.  Join  with kindred  spirits  on  Saturday,  December  8th  beginning  at  6:30p.m.  for an  evening  of  Christmas  musical  selections  on  piano,  flute  and violin.  First  Presbyterian  Church  of  Weyauwega  will  host  Ivory  Wind with  Strings  Attached  as  they  present  their  third  annual  performance of  “Songs  of  the  Season”  benefiting  the  local  chapter  of  the American  Red  Cross  HEROES.  The  ensemble  includes  Joyce  Josie  on piano (ivory),  Ann  Stevens  on  flute  (wind) and  Laurie  Young  on violin (strings attached).  Each  extends  a  warm  welcome  and  an escape  from  the  hectic  rush  of  the  holidays  for  an  evening  of  musical  reflection  and  refreshments. 

THANK YOU

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers