Tag: Hurricane Harvey

‘Iowa Nice is More Than Just a T-Shirt Slogan,’ Red Cross Says After Flood of New Volunteers

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  First Harvey hit. Then came Irma. Jose and Maria are now threatening. Mother Nature is bringing a fury of hurricanes, but also a steady stream of Iowa volunteers.

“Iowans are coming out to volunteer and help out,” the American Red Cross Iowa Region’s Senior Volunteer Specialist Tasmania “Taz” Stills said on Monday. “Iowa nice is more than just a t-shirt slogan.”

The numbers tell the story. The Red Cross usually has a list of about 600 Iowans who are signed up as volunteers for disaster relief, but since the hurricanes hit earlier this month, 400 additional people have reached out to the organization about volunteering.

The Red Cross requires a person to be available for a minimum two-week deployment, often on little notice. But lately, Iowans have been asking for more.

“The most common question is definitely, ‘What if I want to stay longer,'” Stills said of what he has heard from volunteers during training.

And what would she tell them? “We will work to make that happen,” Stills said. “We need it, especially in this unprecedented disaster response.”

The Red Cross held an all-day training session for more than  a dozen new volunteers at its Des Moines office on Monday. Volunteers could be deployed to a disaster site as soon as this week.

How to Talk to Kids About Trauma and Natural Disasters

DES MOINES, Iowa – It is hard to explain to children what he or she sees on TV when it comes to natural disasters.

Recently with both Hurricane Harvey and Irma children are asking questions that adults may not have the answers to.

Nurse Manager at Mercy Behavioral Science Sarah Schuller said it is important to note that young children normally are not exposed to trauma at a young age.

“A really important thing to remember is that kids learn from their parents’ response. Kids don’t have exposure to this kind of trauma normally. So, they read their parents response to learn how to respond. The first thing to remember is to talk to them at an age appropriate level,” Schuller said.

Some tips when talking to children about natural disasters include:

  • Creating an open and supportive environment where children know they can ask questions.
  • Give children honest answers and information.
  • Use words and concepts children can understand.
  • Be prepared to repeat information and explanations several times.
  • Acknowledge and validate the child’s thoughts, feelings and reactions.
  • Remember that children tend to personalize situations.
  • Be reassuring, but don’t make unrealistic promises.
  • Help children find ways to express themselves.
  • Let children know that lots of people are helping the families affected by the disaster.
  • Children learn from watching their parents and teachers.
  • Don’t let children watch too much television with frightening images.
  • Children who have experienced trauma or losses in the past are particularly vulnerable to prolonged or intense reactions to news or images of natural disasters.
  • Monitor physical symptoms including headaches and stomach-aches.

Schuller said Hurricane Katrina hit when her son was young, and asked him a simple question of what he would miss the most if everything he had was lost.

“He said, I would miss my books. And I said well what if we did a book drive for children in New Orleans? Our tiny church ended up sending thousands of books to help,” Schuller said.

Schuller said It is important to ask children questions like, “what would you miss? Just talk to them about the reality of the situation. What do you have? What do you have that you can give that’s something real. And make it personal, but not scary. If somebody were going to send you something, what would you like to have right now?”

You can reach the Mercy Help Center at (515)-271-6111 if you need someone to talk to.

Urbandale Kids Spreading Ambassador Spirit to Schools Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

URBANDALE, Iowa  --  The 4th and 5th grade students at Rolling Green Elementary School are expected to be ambassadors for younger students in the school; now they're doing the same for kids in Texas.

This week the school launched a fundraiser for schools impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  They are collecting school supplies, money and gift cards to send to schools damaged by the storm.

The idea for the drive came from two students.  Jack saw the coverage of Hurricane Harvey on the news and wanted to go South to help.  "I wanted to go down and help those people that were stranded in their homes so I wanted to go down and just help them," Jack said.

He shared that thought with classmate Maysa who then took it a teacher.  Together they came up with a plan: use the schools "Ambassador" program, that encourages older students to help out younger students, to start a supply drive.  "It feels great because your doing a good cause and you're helping people that really need it," Maysa says.

The school will accept donations from the public until Friday at Noon.  You can stop by the school, at 8100 Airline Avenue, and drop them off.


Iowa Red Cross Volunteers Ready to Help With Hurricane Irma Relief Efforts

FLORIDA  --  Volunteers from the Iowa Red Cross are heading down south.

The Greater Iowa chapter posted a photo of a group leaving Des Moines for Macon, Georgia, on Sunday. The five volunteers have skills ranging from mass care to EMT to case work.

At least 61 Iowans have deployed to Florida and Texas to help with back-to-back hurricanes in the U.S.

Apple Donates $5 Million to Hurricane Relief, Makes it Easier for Customers to Donate

TEXAS  —  Apple is pledging another $5 million for hurricane relief.

The company said Friday that it’s giving the donation to the “Hand in Hand” drive, an ongoing fundraiser that will divvy up funds between several organizations. The goal is to help victims of Hurricane Harvey — which clobbered the Gulf Coast two weeks ago — and Hurricane Irma, an even more powerful storm that is barreling towards Florida.

Apple also said Friday that it will allow its customers to donate directly to the cause.

“Starting this weekend, anyone with an iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC running iTunes can donate directly through the App Store and iTunes,” the company said in a statement.

Related: Businesses donate over $160 million to Harvey relief efforts

Apple says it donated another $3 million to the Red Cross after Harvey. Apple employees and customers have given another $2 million to that organization, a spokesperson said Friday.

“Hand in Hand” has been collecting donations since Harvey flooded Houston, and organizers are planning to host a star-studded telethon on September 12.

The fund’s initial primary backers were Verizon and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Michael Dell, a Houston native, has given $5 million to the fund. Verizon will be running a call center for the drive, and it has given $2.5 million to “Hand in Hand,” according to a press release.

The telethon will air live coast-to-coast on several networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and HBO. (HBO, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.)

Among the big-name stars expected to appear on the broadcast will include Beyoncé, Oprah, Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Drake and George Clooney. The event will also feature a performance from country music star George Strait, along with “special guests.”

Animal Rescue League Returns with Dogs Affected By Hurricane Harvey

ANKENY, Iowa -- After a week in the Houston area a crew from the Animal Rescue League of Central Iowa returned to the metro with 17 dogs.

"They're doing fine. I think they are just happy to be out of the truck. That's a long trip for the dogs,” said Josh Colvin with the ARL, "We are helping animals, we are helping people. It's the best of both worlds.”

All of the pets were in shelters before Harvey hit and they needed to be moved to make room for other animals displaced when the storm him.  This the third such trip for Colvin.  “I think with this one, everything kind of came together and they knew that going in. People are getting reunited with their pets every day down there so that's a great thing to see,” said Colvin.

The dogs will be in quarantine for a few days to avoid spreading any diseases. After that they will be given a complete physical.  Colvin estimates that it will take two weeks to complete this process and the pets will be up for adoption shortly after.

Along with bringing the dogs to Iowa, the ARL also helped storm damaged shelters rebuild.  "Well the one we were at didn't have power or water at all. So we were having to truck water in and get generators. That is where we helped the most.  Trying to get everything set up as an animal shelter,” said Colvin.

Colvin and his team won’t get much rest, they are already planning a trip to Florida to help before Irma hits land.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma put Strain on Availability of Local Red Cross Volunteers

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and now the impending threat of Irma, dozens of Iowans have asked how they can help with relief efforts. Organizers with the Iowa Red Cross says the two major natural disasters are putting pressure on them to churn out trained volunteers.

Throughout the week, the Iowa Red Cross will be hosting volunteer information sessions across the state. Officials say those who undergo training now will not likely be sent to Texas, but if ready they will go to Florida.

“It really puts a lot of pressure on us. It’s going to be really interesting and a challenge for us,” says Iowa Red Cross volunteer Terry Christensen.

According to the Iowa Red Cross, nearly 50 volunteers are currently stationed in Houston. On Tuesday and Wednesday, four volunteers will deploy to Orlando ahead of the expected storm.

Christensen is a volunteer trainer for the nonprofit organization, and anticipates between 50 and 75 volunteers will attend each meeting in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Sioux City, and Des Moines. Volunteers must complete a series of online and in-person courses and be 18 years or older. Organizers say they not only need volunteers willing to travel out of state, but those who are willing to stay in-state, too.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done locally," he says. “Just answering the telephones in our offices. With all the people deploying, there are back up needs we have at local fire stations. They don't stop when there is a disaster.”

An volunteer informational meeting will take place on Thursday in Des Moines at the Red Cross building located at 2116 Grand Avenue beginning at 6 p.m.

Safe Ways to Donate to Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

DES MOINES, Iowa — People in texas are still struggling to pick up the pieces Hurricane Harvey left behind.

The Red Cross and the City of Houston still need money to help everyone affected, but it’s important to note, scammers are taking advantage of the situation.

Here are some tips from the Attorney General’s office:

  • Know who you are giving to. Fake organizations may have a name similar to a legitimate organization.
  • Be wary of callers seeking donations. Don’t give to someone who calls you unless you are certain the caller represents an organization you are familiar with. Scammers can spoof caller ID.
  • Be wary of emails and social media posts seeking donations.The links attached to them may contain malicious software.
  • Avoid providing cash to someone who shows up at your door. Ask to see the person’s identification, and don’t let someone pressure you into donating.
  • Be cautious about crowdfunding.
  • There are several ways to verify an organization Places to check include the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, and Charity Navigator. You can check an organization’s tax status through IRS Select Check.

Here are several safe ways to donate:

  • Hop on Amazon and check out the Red Cross Wishlist to send items directly where they need to go
  • Call 1-800-Red-Cross or text HARVEY to 9099
  • Go to NVOAD.ORG to donate to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
  • Donate directly to the City of Houston at HoustonTX.gov

President Declares Sunday National Day of Prayer for Harvey Victims and Responders

UNITED STATES  --  In response to seeing first-hand the devastation Hurricane Harvey left in the Gulf Coast region, President Trump declared Sunday a national day of prayer for the victims and relief volunteers.

In a written statement, the president urged Americans of "all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers today for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey." He goes on to include first responders, law enforcement, military personnel, and medical professionals who have assisted in rescue efforts.

To mark the occasion, the president and first lady attended church services at St. John's Church across from the White House.

Melania Trump later tweeted, "Beautiful service today at St. John's. @potus and I wishing you many blessings on this National Day of Prayer."


ISU Football Community Pushing to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

AMES, Iowa  --  Cyclone Nation is coming together to support Hurricane Harvey victims, and some are doing more than just donating supplies.

ISU football player Brian Peavy's dream to help those in Texas became a reality on Saturday. Fans flocked to watch the ISU vs. UNI game, wasn't the only thing multiplying at Jack Trice: a donation pile of supplies to send to Hurricane Harvey victims was growing, too.

“Having the opportunity to contribute to the people in Houston and the effort down with Hurricane Harvey is giant," said ISU defensive end Vince Horras. "As a football team, we've got guys from the area, everybody's got family and friends down there, and we know that anything is appreciated."

ISU football partnered with Hy-Vee to carry out junior defensive back Brian Peavy's goal to help.

"We're always helpful, even though, like, they're Texas and we're Iowa and we're far away, we have stuff and we can help, so obviously as an Iowan I want to help people," said Ames resident Tori Swanson.

Kara Schoepfer is a Cyclone fan, and she’s not letting the nearly 1,000 miles between Iowa and Texas get in her way. After Saturday's game, she is headed to Texas to help her sister who lives in Houston, and who lost everything.

"We're going to help out any way we can down there, with the demolition of their house and trying to salvage what didn’t get destroyed," she said.

Schoepfer said helping Harvey victims is a great lesson for her kids, and not just Cyclone Nation but also people everywhere.

"I hope it's teaching them that they have a responsibility to help others in need," Schoepfer said.

Some say helping people in need is already a victory, no matter the outcome on the field.