Monthly Archives: May 2011

Red Cross Roundup: Nationwide Response Throughout Disaster Areas

American Red Cross responds to deadly Midwest tornadoes

Monday, May 23, 2011 — Just hours after a series of devastating tornadoes swept through the Midwest last night, the American Red Cross opened shelters in Missouri and Minnesota to help those whose homes were damaged or destroyed.   

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with those who lost loved ones or have suffered through these deadly storms,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “The Red Cross already has people on the ground to help in these communities, and we have more on the way today.”donate pageThe American Red Cross opened a shelter in hard-hit Joplin, Missouri, shortly after the tornado struck on Sunday. That shelter, located at Missouri Southern State University, had approximately 110 people on Sunday night and can hold up to 1,000 people. …The Red Cross also opened a shelter in Minneapolis, where 200 people spent the night following the tornadoes there.

Currently, hundreds of relief supplies are being moved from Red Cross warehouses to Joplin and other affected areas. These supplies include comfort kits, tarps, coolers, rakes and other cleanup supplies. The Red Cross is also sending in additional staff, concentrating particularly on trained health and mental health workers.

Red Cross response ongoing after tornado and flooding aftermath

The American Red Cross continues to respond to flooding along the Mississippi River and areas of the South where devastating tornadoes recently destroyed entire communities.

  • There have been 25 large Red Cross relief operations in 20 states since March 31, including wildfires in Texas, tornadoes across much of the South, and flooding along major waterways including the current Mississippi River flooding. 
  • More than 8,800 Red Cross workers have responded since March 31, helping people whose lives have been changed forever by these disasters.
  • The Red Cross has opened hundreds of shelters, served more than 1.8 million meals and snacks as well as handed out more than one million relief items like tarps, gloves, coolers and brooms to thousands of people in need.
  • More than 2,100 Red Cross workers continue to help people along the Mississippi River and in areas across the south where tornadoes wiped out entire communities.

The Red Cross estimates that it will spend as much as $31 million responding to the recent disasters, and has received $27.6 million in pledges and contributions for those operations.

Continue reading


(VIDEO, PICTURES) Red Cross in Ringgold: Adventures of a Red Cross volunteer

By Kevin Hagler

A sign reads "Pray for our town Ringgold" in front of a small business just outside of downtown.

I’m going to go ahead and say it: Ringgold, Georgia looks like a war zone. In the waning days of April, mother nature decided to rear her head and it was by no means pretty. As cliches go, I’m 2 for 2, but in this case it definitely applies.

Red Cross disaster volunteer Nigel Poole from Americus,Georgia talks with a woman during one of his stops delivering meals and supplies to residents of tornado-ravaged Ringgold,Georgia. Photo: Kevin Hagler/American Red Cross

Last week, Ruben, Tina, and I headed from Atlanta to Ringgold–one of the hardest hit areas of the state– to get an idea of just what the situation is up there. What we found were demolished houses, businesses, and a downtown area which has suffered significant damage (both physically and emotionally). But what was most striking was the capacity of compassion and drive of those who seek to help others (many of whom are working for free and many of whom have endured damage as well). The Red Cross had an immediate presence on that front.

“It’s an honor to be able to serve” said Nigel Poole,  Americus Red Crosser and Emergency  Response Vehicle (ERV) driver.

We shadowed Nigel for a large part of the day as he went from neighborhood to neighborhood and shelter to shelter, feeding and supplying tornado victims across Ringgold.

In doing so, we had the chance to speak to some folks who were hardest hit by the tornadoes:

“It’s a blessing” said Mrs. Allen, a displaced resident of Ringgold. “A lot of the residents are without power and water so they can’t cook.” Mrs. Allen’s home was completely destroyed and she was grateful that she could count on the Red Cross for food and comfort. “The Red Cross has provided hot meals for everyone. It’s a god send” she said.

Red cross volunteer Mona Balogun serves a hot meal to Kenneth Gable, a utility worker from New Orleans who helping to restore power in Ringgold, Georgia


Some neighborhood homes were entirely destroyed. In fact, one home “pancaked” meaning that a bottom floor of a multi-floor home gave way for the top floor to fall (pictured below).

Remarkably, the family survived. A lone refrigerator helped save the life of the lady of the household.  The very refrigerator she fought to rid of throughout the year.

Red Cross disaster volunteers, Mollie Hamby and Mona Balogun, survey a demolished home in the Salem Valley Rd. area of Ringgold. Remarkably, the family survived the tornado.

After a long day it is clear that many people rely on Red Cross’ services in order to get by. It was even clearer that my “long day” is nothing compared to the weeks of hard work of those Red Cross volunteers at the scene, not the mention the hardship of those who are now homeless and in need of our help.

Whether it be food, water, shelter, comfort kits, cleanup kits, or medical needs, the Red Cross is there to help.

But, how can you help? Here’s how:

Text REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation

OR Click the “Donate” tab at the top of the page for more information.

VIDEO: Red Cross aides tornado victims in Manchester, GA

The Red Cross turns heartbreak into hope for those displaced in Manchester, GA.

Disaster Update (Red Cross Response to date):

  • 388 volunteers and staff have provided food, shelter, health and mental services, and other recovery resources in hard-hit areas of Georgia.
  • 45,231 meals have been served and 520 clean up kits have been distributed.
  • 454 bulk items have been distributed (includes rakes, sunscreen, diaper formula, garbage bags, dust masks, paper towels, and more)
  • 486 people have been provided safe havens  in 11 Red Cross shelters.

We still need your help:

Text  REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10

or click the “Donate” tab at the top of this blog!

Disaster Update: Georgia’s Red Cross Response to Deadly Tornadoes

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

American Red Cross volunteer Lisa Smith gives a blanket to Ceindra Bar 10, at Red Cross Shelter. Bar's family's home was destroyed by the devastating tornadoes that left her community in ruins.

American Red Cross relief efforts continue this week in tornado-ravaged Georgia, where heart-broken families mourn the loss of loved ones and nearly 1,100 homes have been heavily damaged or destroyed.

Well before the tornadoes hit on April 27, Red Cross volunteers in communities across Georgia prepared to respond. Local Disaster Action Teams were among the first to shelter, feed, and comfort their devastated neighbors in the aftermath of the storms.

In the weeks and months ahead, the Red Cross will to be there to help disaster-stricken families get back on their feet, and support struggling communities in their recovery. The needs of those devastated by the storms are immense, but because of the support of our donors, the Red Cross has the capacity to respond to each and every disaster, providing shelter, meals, supplies, and emotional support.

Red Cross Response to Date:

  • 200 Red Cross volunteers and staff in hard-hit areas of the state are working with community partners to provide shelter, meals, health and mental health services, clean-up supplies and other recovery resources.
  • 16,218 meals have been served and 427 comfort kits distributed. Emergency response vehicles were mobilized to provide mobile feeding and clean-up supply distribution.
  • 445 people have been provided shelter.

Shelters remain open in the following locations: at Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School in Catoosa County, Manchester High School in Meriwether County, and Clayton Baptist Church in Rabun County. Red Cross shelters were opened in Catoosa, Dade, Floyd, Meriwether, Morgan, Pickens, Rabun, and Spalding counties on the night of the storms to provide a safe haven and meals for storm survivors. Red Cross nurses and mental health counselors are providing health and mental health services for those who face the daunting task of rebuilding. Red Cross damage assessment teams are reporting 572 homes in Georgia were destroyed and 526 suffered major damage. Disaster assessment remains to be completed in Walker and Rabun counties.

Zariah Beckham, 3, excitedly opens a comfort kit at a Red Cross Shelter.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of those who lost their lives to these terrible storms,” said Suzanne Detlefs, Board Chair for the Georgia Red Cross. “Red Cross disaster teams are working tirelessly to shelter and feed thousands of people affected by the disaster, and we will continue to be there for them until their emergency needs are met.”

Red Cross-Georgia Tornado Call Center

Anyone who needs information on Red Cross tornado relief services in Georgia is urged to call the Red Cross-Georgia Tornado Call Center, a toll-free number, at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and follow the prompts for disaster relief in Georgia.

The call center, open daily from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., is a resource for families with questions about what types of services the Red Cross is providing to disaster survivors and how to access them in local communities. Volunteers can also provide tips and recovery resources, community referrals, and help with family reunification through the Red Cross Safe and Well website. The Safe and Well website provides a way to let loved ones know you are safe and to find information about people in the affected areas. Callers can register themselves as Safe and Well at

Five More Counties Designated for Federal Assistance

Five more counties have been designated for disaster assistance for individuals, families, and businesses as part of Georgia’s federal disaster declaration for the recent storms and tornadoes. The latest counties are Cherokee, Habersham, Newton, Upson, and White, bringing the total number approved for assistance to individuals to 25. Counties previously designated for individual assistance are Bartow, Catoosa, Coweta, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Greene, Harris, Heard, Lamar, Lumpkin, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Spalding, Troup, and Walker.

Affected survivors and business owners in these counties may apply for assistance by calling FEMA’s toll-free registration number, 800-621-FEMA (3362). An online application may be completed at Individual assistance for homeowners and renters can include grants to help pay for rental housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses not met by insurance or other assistance programs.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are now open in Catoosa, Dade, Floyd, and Spalding counties. Visit for exact locations.

How You Can Help

Red Cross disaster assistance is free. The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Please consider making a donation today to help the thousands of people who have been affected by these disasters.

By Phone: Call 1-800-RED-CROSS

By Text: Text REDCROSS to 90999 and donate $10

By Check: Mail to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 101508, Atlanta, GA 30392-1508

By Internet: Visit

Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling, and other emergency assistance. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.