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Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Help with Hurricane Sandy

Written by Anita Foster, Chief Communications Officer, American Red Cross-North Texas Region 
Even though North Texans are miles from the wind and rain, there are still three important action steps that local residents can take to help those impacted:

1. Give Blood. Residents in the impact zone will not be able to donate blood for the next few weeks as they'll be focused on disaster recovery. North Texans can do our part to help by ensuring we keep the nationwide blood supply stocked. To make a blood donor appointment, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit www.redcross.org.

2. Make a Financial Gift. Mobilizing for a relief operation of this size is costly, but necessary. The Red Cross has already spent millions of dollars getting ready, and we'll spend millions more after landfall. North Texans can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10, click on www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make a much-needed financial donation.

3. Download the Hurricane App: This free application from the Red Cross will allow someone to receive alerts and track friends and family in the impact zone. The App is available for the iPhone and Android.

Once Hurricane Sandy makes landfall, the American Red Cross will have a better idea of how many people are directly impacted and what additional resources will be needed for relief efforts.

Friday, August 24, 2012

From Panhandle to Panhandle: Volunteers deploy to Florida



Written by Kyla Campbell, staff contributor


Twenty years ago today, Hurricane Andrew, the first named storm of the season, slammed into southern Florida causing major destruction around Florida City, Miami and parts of the Louisiana coastlines. This hurricane season has already produced Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debbie, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon and Helene by Andrew's landfall anniversary but it's this ninth named storm which appears to be gunning for the exact same area as Andrew


While the severity of Isaac appears no where close to Andrew's strength, teams of Red Cross volunteers across the nation are prepping for landfall and the impact it may have on local residents. As of today, 16 volunteers from the North Texas Region swiftly packed their go bags, charged up electronics, packed their Red Cross wellies, threw on the red vest and headed south. Many of these volunteers were only home a few days from Oklahoma when the call came that residents in Florida could need them. 

A sincere thank you to the volunteer who leaves the comfort of their home to help others.

If you are interested in helping others here at home or around the country in times of emergencies, you may be a future Red Cross volunteer. To find out more visit redcross.org.

If you wish to help financially, a gift is always appreciated. Donor support means we are able to mobilize these highly trained volunteers to areas we expect to be hardest hit by disasters.

Whether a disasters here at home or across the country, count on the Red Cross being there!

Update as of 8/26/12: Nineteen volunteers deployed to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida while numerous others help plan here in Texas.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

West Nile Woes: Protect Yourself


Written by Kyla Campbell, staff contributor

It's true. In Texas, everything is bigger. And this year the number of West Nile Virus cases capturing headlines as our state leads the nation, is our latest 'bigger' news. 

With all the talk about West Nile Virus in the area, we thought we'd help spread the message on how you can protect yourself from a possible infection from the folks who know best, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC website is full of information, statistics, steps to help choose repellents, steps to take if you think you may have WNV and so much more. Here are the cliff notes in case you don't have time to check out the full site. 


The 4 D's can help protect you and the rest of your summer from these pesky insects and their WNV!
DEET
Apply insect repellent that contains DEET. You can also use repellents with Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DRESS
Long sleeves and pants are best if you are going to be outside.

DRAIN
Any standing water can be a breeding ground for mosquitos so drain it! This includes flower pots, small swimming pools or wading pools and bird baths.

DUSK to DAWN
Mosquitos are most active during this time so grab a board game, watch a movie, enjoy a book. Whatever you choose to do, do it indoors!

You can also be prepared by recognizing the flu-like symptoms of an infection. These include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • While these are typical symptoms of infection, most infected people show NO signs of illness.

So you are wondering, who is most at risk?
If you are older than 50 or have a weakened immune system, then you are a higher risk.

How likely are you to get West Nile Virus?
Good news is that fewer than 1% of those bitten become severely ill, 25% infected have mild symptoms and 80% of those infected will show now symptoms at all.

If you have more concerns or want more information, please visit www.cdc.gov.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Hurricane App Brings American Red Cross Safety Information to Smart Phones


A new American Red Cross Hurricane App puts help right into the hands of people who live in or visit hurricane prone areas. Best of all, it’s free and available for both iPhones and Android phones.

The Red Cross app gives people real time information for hurricane threats where they are located-whether it’s the community where they live or the places they love to vacation.

The app has a number of features that let people share vital information with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers. People who need to get out of harm’s way quickly can tap the “I’m Safe” button to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and loved ones know they are okay. These features that will help friends and families stay in touch during hurricanes, reducing much of the fear and uncertainly for loved ones and property owners far away.

The Red Cross app also gives people the ability to receive location-based NOAA weather alerts for the United States and its territories and share those on their social networks too. Even if someone doesn’t live full-time in a threatened area, users can receive alerts for vacation spots, places where they winter or where loved ones live.  It’s a feature that can give peace of mind to frequent travelers and those with elderly relatives or college students in coastal areas.

Other features include:
  •         Toolkit with a flashlight, a strobe light and an audible alarm
  •         Locations of open Red Cross shelters
  •         Simple steps and checklists to create a family emergency plan
  •         Preloaded preparedness content that gives instant access to critical action steps even without mobile connectivity.
National Red Cross experts in health, safety, and preparedness have thoroughly reviewed and field tested the information and advice provided in this app.

The Hurricane App comes on the heels of the release of highly successful Red Cross First Aid App, which has had nearly 600,000 downloads in its first six weeks. While apps can prepare you for disasters, downloading the First Aid app is not a substitute for training. 

To learn more about Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses or to register, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.
A new American Red Cross Hurricane App puts help right into the hands of people who live in or visit hurricane prone areas. Best of all, it’s free and available for both iPhones and Android phones.
The Red Cross app gives people real time information for hurricane threats where they are located-whether it’s the community where they live or the places they love to vacation.
The app has a number of features that let people share vital information with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers. People who need to get out of harm’s way quickly can tap the “I’m Safe” button to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and loved ones know they are okay. These features that will help friends and families stay in touch during hurricanes, reducing much of the fear and uncertainly for loved ones and property owners far away.
The Red Cross app also gives people the ability to receive location-based NOAA weather alerts for the United States and its territories and share those on their social networks too. Even if someone doesn’t live full-time in a threatened area, users can receive alerts for vacation spots, places where they winter or where loved ones live.  It’s a feature that can give peace of mind to frequent travelers and those with elderly relatives or college students in coastal areas.
Other features include:
  •          Toolkit with a flashlight, a strobe light and an audible alarm
  •          Locations of open Red Cross shelters
  •         Simple steps and checklists to create a family emergency plan
  •         Preloaded preparedness content that gives instant access to critical action steps even without mobile connectivity.
National Red Cross experts in health, safety, and preparedness have thoroughly reviewed and field tested the information and advice provided in this app.
The Hurricane App comes on the heels of the release of highly successful Red Cross First Aid App, which has had nearly 600,000 downloads in its first six weeks. While apps can prepare you for disasters, downloading the First Aid app is not a substitute for training. To learn more about Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses or to register, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Notes from the Chief's Desk: CEO Message

Written by T.D. Smyers, chief executive officer North Texas Region
“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”   
- Clara Barton
One year ago, the North Texas Region of the American Red Cross was born. It was a time of hopeful expectation for some and great anxiety for others. But one need only review these words from Clara Barton to know what our founder would have thought of the organizational change that was necessary to save the American Red Cross, including the creation of regions to handle a lot of the back office functions that had previously burdened our chapters. 

Of course, appealing to Clara means that the change should “improve the past” by advancing the effectiveness and efficiency by which we deliver the historic Red Cross mission.

When I was given the privilege of leading this Region, it became my focus to ensure our regional staff team – both employees and volunteers – were catalysts to the delivery of our mission rather than being an additional layer of bureaucracy. To this end, our team set about identifying just what it is we should be doing. We didn’t need a mission statement. We already had that, courtesy of our national leadership:
Mission Statement
The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
What we did need was to define our purpose in support of that mission. With input and review by employees and volunteers across the Region, we did just that:
Purpose Statement of the North Texas Region
To Support, Resource and Enable the work of North Texas Chapters in executing the mission of the Red Cross.
In order to realize this purpose, and keep us focused, we determined three strategic goals as well:
Strategic Goals of the North Texas Region
  1. Optimize and strengthen the identity of local chapters and build a culture of collaboration across the    Region. 
  2. Become the charity of choice for Time, Talent and Treasure in communities across North Texas. 
  3. Be the top Region in American Red Cross for revenue, volunteerism and diversity.
The staff's and volunteer's pursuit of these goals will reinforce the great work done by American Red Cross chapters every day.
I’ve been impressed by how committed our national leaders are to the “upside down pyramid”, meaning that chapters in the field really take the lead role. When an Emergency Response Vehicle rolls up to a curb because a family burned out in the middle of the night, it’s a local Red Cross volunteer that provides the service. 

When a service member needs important communication from home, they reach out to their local chapter. The same is true when a person wants to become a lifeguard, learn CPR or donate a pint of blood. 

So while there have been many changes in the organizational leadership of the Red Cross, there hasn’t been change in keeping Red Cross services strong at the local level. 
At the North Texas Region, we’re committed to serving our communities across the top of the state of Texas. 
One final note. 

One senior volunteer who wasn’t happy about “regionalization” recently told me that she had changed her mind about the reorganization; mostly because she’s seen such tremendous support from the Region that she knows “things are different this time”. 

In fact, she said she feels more connected to the Red Cross now than she ever did when her chapter was operated independently. 

Good days are ahead. BZ!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Workers and Residents Return: Wake of Colorado Fires


Jon Wells was in Europe traveling with his daughter, Alexandra, when the Waldo Canyon fire started. They were in France as part of a U.S. Ambassador musician tour and Alexandra had just played the first of many concerts when the call came in to tell them of the status of their home. Jon and his daughter live in the Mountain Shadows area where more than 350 homes were destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire. 

We met Jon on Monday, July 9 at the Red Cross Bulk Distribution Site that was set up not far from his home. Jon was there, like so many other Mountain Shadow residents, to get water and bulk cleaning supplies like shovels, rakes, gloves and face masks so that he could begin the process of going through the debris. “I really appreciate that the Red Cross is here to help.” He said. ” I didn’t know where to start and the Red Cross gave me some of the tools that I need, as well as useful information about how to do it.”

While at the Bulk Distribution Center, Jon was also able to talk with Red Cross stress management workers and ERV drivers about the importance of personal safety when working in the burned area. “I really was at a loss until I talked with the Red Cross volunteers.”, he said, “The first thing I need to do is to buy some work boots and work clothes.”

Not much is left of Jon’s home but he was able to salvage the ceramic casting of his daughter’s baby shoes. “Everything else at the house is a mess but I found the shoes right away.”, He said, “They mean a lot to me.” Red Cross workers found plastic bags and helped him wrap the shoe casting for safe keeping.

Jon said, “Now, I need to stay busy while I think about moving forward. It is so great to see the big red and white trucks driving around the area. It makes me feel that there is hope and help when I need it." *

Several volunteers from the Texas Panhandle spent weeks in Colorado helping with the response—some are still in the field while some have returned. 


Raenell Gore, who recently returned home, spent time on Red Cross trucks handing supplies to residents just like Jon—residents needing a place to start. A special thank you to all the volunteers who have spent weeks with the residents of Colorado helping them pick up the pieces.

*Original Story written by Red Cross Volunteers Bill Fortune and Chuck Bennett and was posted at www.newsroom.redcross.org under Story: Not the greatest thing to come home to.