Tag: Red Cross

‘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.

Iowan’s Heart Still Heavy After More Than Two Weeks of Hurricane Relief

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Seeing the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was not easy to stomach.

"I cry a lot, I feel bad for all of them. I just feel bad for all of them," said Iowa Red Cross volunteer Brenda Kamish.

For 16 days, Brenda provided relief support at a mega shelter in Dallas. "I was on concrete all day setting up 5,000 cots for people and feeding them with the Salvation Army," she said.

Texans who left their homes behind with just a bag of belongings.

"The people from Beaumont were picked up on boats from their homes because the water rose so fast they couldn't get out," Brenda said.

The overflow of displaced residents took its toll.

"The toilets got all stopped up, we couldn't use toilets inside. They brought in portable bathrooms and showers were in a semi-truck, but they went through far more than what I experienced."

Brenda was in charge of seven rows of 72 beds, and she was also attempting to provide empathy and comfort daily to over 500 people.

"Everything you went through during the day was there. The tears you shed for those people was there and the hurt in your heart."

She was a shoulder to cry on even as more bad news piled on for the victims. "Some of the apartment landlords were telling them they had five days to get stuff out, and they are six hours away."

A total of 74 Iowans have provided help for victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma.  Brenda is one of 23 who recently returned after more than two weeks away from her Moravia home.

"People don't realize how hard it is for these people and how much help they need," she said.

It's help that is now stretched thin after Hurricane Irma barreled into Florida.  Brenda said, "I feel guilty leaving and coming back because they still need help."

The Iowa Red Cross says 75 more people attended volunteer information sessions across the state last week.  Because of the increased interest, two more sessions have been added on Thursday, September 14th at 6 p.m. in Sioux City and Dubuque.  Another session will be held on Tuesday, September 19th in Cedar Rapids.

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.

Des Moines Organizations Preparing to Send Blood Donations, Volunteers South Ahead of Hurricane Irma

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Iowa Red Cross and LifeServe Blood Center in Des Moines are standing by to help potential victims of Hurricane Irma.

Red Cross volunteers already serving in Texas might have to do double duty.

"Some of them will be asked to extend their deployment and move to Florida, but right now no one has been asked to do that," said Mark Tauscheck of the Red Cross of Central Iowa.

Forty-nine Red Cross volunteers are on standby in Texas, waiting to find out whether they will need to head to Florida.

Ahead of the hurricane, LifeServe Blood Center has sent 100 units of red blood cells, plasma, and platelets to Florida, and hopes to send more. One unit of blood has the potential to save three lives.

To send more blood to hurricane victims, LifeServe needs more local donations.

“Unfortunately, with the summer, our supply has been lower than we wanted it to be, so we want to make sure that’s at a safe level, and if we do have extra products we can send it to the Houston, and Florida area," said Danielle West with LifeServe.

Both organizations say they will know how much support and resources they will need to send come Monday.

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

More Iowa Red Cross Volunteers Traveling to Texas for Storm Relief Work

TEXAS  --  The once-Hurricane Harvey has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, but heavy rains in Texas and Louisiana are expected to cause devastating flooding.

As a result, more help is on the way. On Saturday, the Iowa Red Cross deployed 10 more volunteers to the region, bringing the total number of Iowans sent to the area to 20. The volunteers' duties range from helping provide shelter to handing out medical supplies.

The Red Cross currently has 24 shelters in place in Texas and Louisiana, and 40 more are on standby.

Twenty Red Cross volunteers from Iowa are either in Texas on Sunday night or will soon be in the disaster area. However, with the dangerous flooding conditions, some of them have been unable to get into the city of Houston to help there.

Joe Vich, a Red Cross volunteer from Waterloo, is stuck waiting to help, and spoke with Channel 13 via telephone from Austin, Texas, about 150 miles northwest of his final intended destination. This interview can be heard in the video above.

Iowans Head to Texas for Hurricane Harvey Relief

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Hurricane Harvey, which has strengthened to a category four storm, will make landfall on Friday, and a group of Iowans will be there ready to help with recovery when the storm hits.

Heavy winds and rain rock parts of south Texas as the hurricane moves closer and people living on the coast decide whether they want to leave the area. At the same time, Greater Iowa American Red Cross volunteers are preparing to head down and lend a hand.

“We’re sending down from Dubuque, from Waterloo, we're sending these teams down of two people each in these emergency response vehicles full of these supplies," said Mark Tauscheck of the Red Cross.

Seven volunteers, including longtime volunteer Joe Vich, are heading to one of 17 shelters throughout south Texas.

“It really feels good to be a part of this. Iowa people give back generously, I mean we really do come from a state that's generous and hardworking," Vich said.

Stocking one of the American Red Cross' emergency response trucks costs $2,500 a day, but Iowa volunteers say this is a small price to pay to help people in need.