Thursday, September 20, 2012

Surfing on to a new site!

If you type in today, you'll see something completely different:
That's a quick screen-shot of our new local landing page on Pretty sharp, isn't it? Take some time to surf around and you'll see that the newly redesigned site still has all the same information about your local Red Cross, but in a new format that will hopefully make it easier to find what you are looking for. Because this landing page is part of the American Red Cross website, you'll find not only local information but regional and national news as well. And even if you don't know the local landing page's web address (it's, the site uses new technology to customize your browsing experience using both location and history. That means someone looking for disaster information in Buffalo will see a different home page than someone searching for a First Aid class in Southern California.

The old web address will automatically forward to the new landing page for a while, but to make sure you're always up to date, please update your bookmarks to the new address: And make sure you're following us on Twitter (@buffaloredcross) and Facebook ( for the very latest on what your local Red Cross is doing to serve the Western New York community. And of course, following this blog's not a bad idea, either!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"It was ugly"

Hurricane Isaac has faded from the news, but the devastation it left behind remains. Almost a month after the storm first hit the Gulf region, there were still 50 people staying in Red Cross shelters last night, and that doesn't even begin to get into the cleanup that needs to be done. When he returned home to Buffalo from his deployment to Louisiana, volunteer Lou Colca said several areas in the Gulf were still without power when he left late last week.
Some of the flooding immediately after Isaac hit Louisiana
Photo courtesy Red Cross
Colca worked on an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), serving food to residents in affected areas. "It was ugly," Colca said. "Houses still had a lot of water in them. Those that had dried were gutted, with ruined furniture piled on the lawn. I even saw tombstones that had been picked up and moved by the waters."

This was Colca's second deployment, and says he saw more devastation from Isaac than he did following flooding in New Jersey a few years ago. But as he found in New Jersey, people in the Gulf were happy to see the Red Cross on the scene.

"Even in McDonald's, people would come up and thank you," Colca said. "When we were serving food from the ERV, people wanted to give me money. Of course I told them no thanks, all our disaster assistance is free, but some of them said they would make a donation to the Red Cross as soon as they got things back together."

Because of the ever-changing situation, Colca rarely spent two nights in the same place during his week and a half deployment, as the Red Cross shifted focus to areas of greatest need. Despite never knowing where he was going to spend the night, Colca says it was happy with his experience in the Gulf. "My supervisor was very organized and kept everyone calm through all the changes. We worked well with the Texas Southern Baptists, who cooked most of the food we served, and we were able to leave any leftover food with local churches. It actually was very rewarding!"
Pete Swales (middle) of Springville, NY with two
international volunteers from Mexico getting ready to serve
meals from an ERV in Covington, LA.
24 WNY volunteers were part of relief efforts.

If you'd like to support the continuing relief efforts in the Gulf, or help ensure the Red Cross is ready the next time disaster strikes, please make a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, visiting, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation (charges will appear on your cellphone bill).