Friday, October 26, 2012

2 Western New York Volunteers Deploying to Assist in Hurricane Sandy Response

Red Cross preparing to respond across east coast if needed

BUFFALO, NY, October 26, 2012 – Hurricane Sandy may take aim at the eastern coast of the United States as early as this weekend, and from Florida to Maine, the American Red Cross is placing shelter locations, trained disaster workers, vehicles and supplies on alert to respond if needed. The Red Cross is also working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to coordinate potential response efforts.

2 volunteers from the Western New York region will deploying ahead of the storm to assist in those response efforts. Michael Hoplight of Niagara Falls will be leaving for Albany this evening to serve as a logistics supervisor, and Tara Hughes of Amherst is leaving for White Plains, NY Saturday, where she will serve as the Disaster Mental Health lead for New York State. In addition, Emergency Response Vehicles from Buffalo and Jamestown are on alert to be sent to affected regions as needed, and it is expected that several additional volunteers from the Western New York region will be deployed to assist in the response to Hurricane Sandy in the coming days.

The American Red Cross encourages people in the possible path of Hurricane Sandy to keep informed about the storm’s progress and prepare now in case their community is affected. The American Red Cross Hurricane App puts lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in or who visit hurricane prone areas. This free app—available in English or Spanish—is for use on both iPhone and Android platforms. It gives users instant access to local and real time information on what to do before, during and after hurricanes. The app also includes a number of features that allow people to monitor personalized weather alerts in locations where family and friends reside and share information with others in their social networks who might also need it.

Other features of the app include:

·         One touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way;
·         Location-based NOAA weather alerts for the United States and its territories users can share on social networks;
·         Remote monitoring of personalized weather alerts where family and friends reside
·         Locations of open Red Cross shelters;
·         Simple steps and checklists people can use to create a family emergency plan;
·         Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
·         Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm; and
·         Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

The Hurricane can be found in the iTunes or Google Play app stores by searching for American Red Cross. The Red Cross First Aid App helps people learn what to do in an emergency in case help is delayed. Download all of the preparedness apps at People can go to for additional information and resources. 

The American Red Cross spends an average of more than $360 million each year preparing for and responding to disasters across the country and around the world. Those wishing to help people affected by disasters such as Hurricane Sandy are asked to make a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-REDCROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

From seventies to snow...and Sandy!

It may be difficult to believe, with the bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid 70's, but big changes are coming soon, with some "S" words even popping up in the forecast for next week.

The "S" word that we're most often concerned about here in WNY is, of course, snow. And sure enough, there's a chance the white stuff will start flying next week. Coincidentally, this is Winter Weather Awareness Week in New York State. While you're getting out and enjoying this unexpected blast of summer weather, take some steps now to make sure your ready to stay safe when the winter weather blows in. Maybe take a walk to the store to update your emergency kit with fresh water and food and new batteries for the flashlight. Just remember, the time to prepare is now, because once a blizzard hits it may be too late.

There's another "S" word dominating the weather headlines: Sandy, as in Hurricane Sandy, which is already hitting Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas. The storm is expected to push up the east coast this weekend, and when combined with the winter storm could have devastating affects along the east coast starting early next week. In addition to the usual concerns of flooding and wind damage that come with a hurricane, Sandy's predictions even have parallels to our own October Surprise of 2006, with the combination of snow and leafy trees causing long-term power outages.
Outside the Clement Mansion following the
October surprise of 2006. Hopefully, Sandy won't
bring a repeat performance to the East Coast.

Here at the Red Cross, we're getting ready for Sandy, with conference calls scheduled this afternoon to make sure we're ready to respond whenever and wherever it becomes necessary. We encourage everyone to do prepare their families as well. One of the best things you can do is download our hurricane app on your smartphone, with tools to help you prepare for a storm by putting together and emergency kit, find a Red Cross shelter and let your loved ones know your safe.

So enjoy this wonderful day, but don't forget, the weather won't stay this way forever!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The stories behind the Tweets

As you can see from our Twitter feed or Facebook page, our Disaster Action Team had a busy weekend, providing immediate emergency assistance to multiple families after separate fires on Lasalle Avenue and Holly Street in Buffalo. While they provide great updates on the work our amazing volunteers do throughout this community every day, these posts can be a little cold and unemotional. It's impossible to describe the impact these calls for help can have on both the victims and our DAT members in 140 characters. But this email from a staff member and Disaster Action Team leader regarding an incident last weekend does the trick pretty well:

I happened to be on call for Emergency Services this weekend and got a call at 3:30 Saturday morning that there was a house fire in Hamburg and a family of 5 that needed our help.  Any fire I respond to is devastating, but this one in particular reminded me why we do what we do and why our fundraising is so important.  One of the family dogs woke the father up just in time to get his wife and three girls safely out of the house, but unfortunately the house and all of the family’s belongs were utterly destroyed.  As we talked to the mom, there was so much stress and uncertainty about what to do next and the girls were clinging to the few photos and pieces of clothing they were able to salvage before the firemen boarded up the house.  One of the young daughters was clutching the worn pink blanket – her “woobie” that dad grabbed before running out of the house.  I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful this family’s neighbors were, taking them in, listening to what we were telling the family and most importantly just hugging and crying with their friends – in relief that everyone was safe and in despair at the devastation in the house.  My teammate and I drove back home just as the sun was coming up and I really couldn’t have been more proud of the work we do… 

Any one of our DAT volunteers could share similar stories of the emotions felt by everyone at a disaster scene, and we can only be there to turn heartbreak into hope thanks to your support. Even if you are not able to feel this impact for yourself by volunteering, please consider making a donation to help us continue to be what happens next for our neighbors in need across Western New York. 

And if you would like to share your own story of how the Red Cross helped you in your time of need, or how volunteering with us has touched your life, please click the "Share Your Stories" link on the bottom of this page!