Friday, June 29, 2012

There they go again!

We say it all the time, but we'll say it again today. Our volunteers are AWESOME!! Imagine willingly giving up two weeks of your life to travel to an area that's virtually underwater, just so you can help those whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastation. Well, two of our volunteers did just that today.

Susan Peek and Diane Sargent packed and ready to
fly to Florida to assist in Tropical Storm Debby relief efforts
Susan Peek and Diane Sargent boarded a plane for Tampa, Florida this morning to join more than 240 other trained Red Cross disaster workers helping people affected by Tropical Storm Debby. This is Susan's first deployment, but she couldn't have a better trainer. Diane has been on more than a dozen deployments and will help Susan  as they do disaster assessment throughout the affected communities. The Red Cross is currently supporting relief efforts by providing safe shelter, warm meals (more than 6,800 since June 24th!) and distributing relief supplies like flashlights, work gloves, rakes, shovels and tarps. Diane and Susan's work will help make sure those efforts are focused where they are needed most.

On the other side of the country, wildfires have forced thousands of people from their homes. More than 355 people spent Thursday night in nine red cross shelters across Colorado and Montana. Once again, Western New Yorkers are on the job as Beth Shook, who volunteers out of our Southwestern New York Chapter, is on the way to Colorado, where the Red Cross has served more than 36,000 meals and snacks and made over 3,800 health and mental health contacts since June 9th. It is possible that additional volunteers from the area could be deployed depending on how these situations progress.
Diane and Susan tell the media about what they expect
to see in do during their Florida deployment

Before leaving, Susan and Diane had the chance to talk to the media about why they're going and what they expect to see once they arrive in Florida. Our volunteers don't like to talk about themselves, but rather focus on who they're helping and how, even if it means doing a little Red Cross PR along the way. We can't thank them and all of our volunteers enough for their service, and we look forward to their safe return.

If you'd like to help out, please consider making a gift to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, visiting, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your neighbors in need thank you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Prepare for an emergency? Bingo!!

Hurricane season hasn't even officially begun, and the Red Cross is already opening shelters in Florida in response to Tropical Storm Debby. The situation there is only expected to get worse, with up to 25 inches of rain possible over the next few days. This comes as multiple Red Cross shelters remain open to assist residents in Colorado and Utah who have been forced to evacuate by wildfires.

So you may be wondering...what does that have to do with us in Western New York? First of all, as always, our volunteers are ready to deploy to the affected areas if our assistance is needed, and we encourage everyone to help our neighbors in need by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts. In addition, while we are not currently affected, these situations show the importance of emergency preparedness. From flooding to house fires, hurricanes to wildfires, disaster can strike anywhere, anytime, often without warning.

Bingo! These ladies at Untied Church Manor Apartments
in West Seneca are better prepared for an emergency.
Do you want to learn more about the three steps everyone can take that can help make a difference? (By the way, they're Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed!) The Red Cross offers free emergency preparedness education programs, but don't worry--it's not like sitting through your college biology lecture. In fact, it's kinda fun! On Friday, our own Denise Herkey-Jarosch delivered a program at the United Church Manor Apartments in West Seneca, complete with a game of preparedness bingo! And really, who doesn't love a little bingo--only in this version, everyone wins some potentially life-saving information.

We offer free emergency preparedness education programs for everyone, from age four on up. Don't wait until it's Western New York's turn to deal with a disaster to make sure you and your loved ones are prepared. You may even get to practice your "BINGO" call before the next big game!!