Restoring Family Links Connecting US with People in Afghanistan and Pakistan after Earthquake

The Restoring Family Links website has been activated
in relation to the earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan – bit.ly/1ijHMXg 

A woman helds a tracing request.
A woman helds a tracing request.

Two days ago a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan/Pakistan with the epicenter in the Jerm district in the Afghan province of Badakhshan close to the border with Pakistan. Shockwaves were felt throughout the region.

AfganistanquakeThe Afghan Red Crescent deployed about 200 volunteers and staff to the affected areas to provide emergency relief, conduct assessments and assist with blood donation services. Emergency response teams are mobilized for search and rescue.

The Pakistan Red Crescent Society also immediately deployed to carry out relief activities. Emergency medical material to treat patients has been delivered to Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar and District Headquarters Hospital Swat.

Both emergency response teams are actively involved in tending to those wounded and providing basic assistance to the most affected people. It will take several days to have a clear picture of the extent of the damages as many areas are covered by snow and many roads are still blocked due to landslides.

The Family Linking website has been activated in response to this disaster.  The website is currently available in English, it will be followed by an Urdu then Pashto version.

earthquakeThis family links website offers people the possibility to:

  • Search through the list of missing persons and people who have responded that they are alive
  • Register names of persons with whom they have lost contact
  • Register names of persons who wish to inform others that they are alive

People can register in a form on the website, which is submitted to the Red Cross. Names will not automatically appear on the lists in the website. The names which people wish to make public will need to be processed by the Red Cross first, which is continuously updating the lists.

Inquiries will be accepted that meet the following criteria:

  • The sought person and inquirer must be family members
  • Inquiries must have the last known address information
  • Sought persons live in the affected area and had been in regular contact with their relatives

If anyone is unable to use the website contact the Restoring Family Links Unit at 202-303-5280 for further guidance.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services  at 1-888-407-4747.

30 Days Later – The California Wildfires Response

Immediate Collaboration

The ongoing drought across California has given way to another historic wildfire season. Beginning September 9, 2015, two of the most destructive wildfires in state history flared throughout northern California. The Valley Fire is now the third most destructive fire in state history and the Butte Fire the seventh most destructive blaze. Combined, these fires burned more than 150,000 square acres and destroyed more than 1,700 homes, displacing thousands of families.

As the fires destroyed buildings, neighbors instantly came together to help one another showing amazing generosity and resilience. Local Red Cross chapters, community organizations and government agencies sprang into action as well, mobilizing volunteers to offer shelter, food, water, basic health services, and mental health services for thousands of people in the path of the wildfires.

As evacuation orders were lifted, Red Cross volunteers worked alongside community members to distribute food, and relief supplies to impacted neighborhoods and support people as they returned to their properties with health and mental health services.

California Wildfires Response by the Numbers:

  • over 120,000 meals and snacks served by Salvation Army, Southern Baptist, community groups, local restaurants and the Red Cross
  • over 58,000 relief items water, snacks, hot meals, non-perishable meals, and clean-up items such as work gloves, buckets, trash bags, sifters, and dust masks
  • over 11,000 overnight stays in 12 community or Red Cross shelters
  • over 9,900 health and mental health contacts
  • over 1,500 cases opened by Red Cross caseworkers to provide individualized recovery support.

Disasters are often complex, with complex needs – and no single agency can meet every need on its own; it takes collaboration and partnership. The reality is that it takes the talents and resources of many agencies and organizations working together to provide necessary services after a major disaster.

The Red Cross is one of many agencies coming together to ensure that basic needs are met, to work on the long-term recovery of entire communities, and to help them be prepared for and more resilient in the face of future wildfires. During the California Wildfires response, the Red Cross collaborated with several partner agencies, including several Lions Clubs, several Sevenths Day Adventists communities, Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, Twin Pine Casino, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Salvation Army, Jackson Rancheria, Tzu Chi, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, Children’s Disaster Services, Samaritan’s Purse, Team Rubicon, Rotary Clubs, Community Churches, Boy Scouts of America, Center of Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, local and state Emergency Operation Centers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and many more.

It Takes the Whole Community to Make a Community Whole
To help all households in fire-impacted communities move forward, the Red Cross is working together with local Long-Term Recovery Groups in Lake and Calaveras Counties respectively, which are coalitions of community and grassroots organizations who will develop and execute long-term plans for a community’s recovery.

The Red Cross currently has highly trained caseworkers meeting one-on-one with each family affected by the wildfires to understand each unique situation and help them on the road to recovery with the information, assistance, and access to resources they need to put that plan into action. They are helping people with family reunification information, funeral assistance, emergency needs and recovery planning.

Caseworkers are also skilled in directing people to other agencies that provide specialized services not provided by the Red Cross.  Much of Red Cross recovery work focuses on assisting the most vulnerable people who need extra help getting back on their feet, are ineligible for government assistance, or don’t have anywhere else to turn for help.

The Red Cross also has trained disaster mental health professionals available to help adults and children cope with the emotional impact of a disaster and its aftermath.  It’s common for people to suffer from high stress, anxiety, depression and other trauma related illnesses during and after a disaster. Red Cross Disaster Mental Health workers assess clients’ needs, provide individual psychological triage, crisis intervention and condolence support, and make appropriate community referrals for longer term support.

Persons affected by the wildfires who are in need of assistance are encouraged to connect with a Red Cross caseworker by calling 855-255-2490.

Preparing for Secondary Impacts
The wildfires left vast expanses of terrain and hillsides bare and when heavy rains arrive this winter, experts predict that flooding and mudslides are not far behind.  Recognizing that these secondary impacts represent a serious threat, the Red Cross will be collaborating with local communities to increase personal preparedness and strengthening the existing volunteer corps to ensure the community is ready to respond if and when another disaster strikes.

The Red Cross provides potentially life-saving preparedness apps that are absolutely free. There are apps for first aid, tornadoes, hurricanes, flood, wildfire, and earthquake that can be programmed to give an audible warning should an event be imminent. They are filled with important information on what to do before, during, and after an event, and provide directions to Red Cross shelters. Recently, the Red Cross came out with an Emergency app that combines in one place many of the features of the individual apps described above. All of these apps are free of charge. They can be found and downloaded by going to your particular app store and searching “Red Cross” or from the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org.

No matter what the disaster is, the American Red Cross is hard at work at some phase of the Disaster Cycle and often on multiple phases at the same time. The Red Cross is here today to serve those who have lost so much, and it will be ready to serve when a future disaster strikes again.

A Picture Is Worth 1000 words – check out the images captured during the Butte Fire Response – Butte Fire Pictures

American Red Cross Establishes Public Information Line in Response to the Butte Fire

ButteFire-ABC10Jackson, CA – Saturday, September 12, 2015 – The American Red Cross has established a public information line for inquiries from the public regarding Red Cross services during the Butte Fire.

The number to call is: (925)588-6678. The phone number is being staffed by a Red Cross volunteer. If you get a busy signal, we ask for your patience and to call back.

The three emergency evacuation shelters established by the Red Cross are located at:

Calaveras County

  • Good Samaritan Church, 4684 Baldwin St, Valley Springs
  • Jenny Lynn Veterans Hall, 189 Pine Street, Valley Springs

Amador County

  • Jackson Rancheria Hotel and Resort – 12222 New York Ranch Rd, Jackson

IN-KIND DONATIONS

We appreciate the good intentions of people who want to donate items, but financial donations are the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most.

The Red Cross isn’t equipped to handle a large influx of donations such as household items, clothing or food that may or may not be useful to victims as it takes time and money to store, sort and distribute donated items. If community members still like to donate goods, we recommend they contact other organizations in their community and inquire if they are accepting donations.  

“Financial donations allow us to be flexible in the help we deliver and ensure that we can provide what disaster victims need most,” said Lilly Wyatt, Director of Regional Communications with the American Red Cross Gold Country Region. “Donating is simple, just call 1-800-Red Cross or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.”

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people.

Help on the Ground and From Six Thousand Miles Away

Typhoon Soundelor destroyed homes, toppled trees and snapped utility poles on the 48-square mile island of Saipan. The island is close to six thousand miles away from Stanislaus County, but distance doesn’t play a role in how the Red Cross provides assistance to the people affected by this disaster.

As part of a new virtual deployment program, Red Cross volunteers from this region are now helping people affected by natural disasters across the country and around the world without ever leaving their homes.

KathyPascoe1
Volunteer Kathy Pascoe has been serving and helping our communities through the American Red Cross for 21 years. Thank you Kathy!!

Kathy Pascoe lives in Ceres.  She has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for 21 years and is part of the Disaster Action Team that responds to local disasters. Kathy is trained in health services, nursing and client case work, among other things.

From her home in Stanislaus County, Kathy is helping process paperwork online for families affected by the tropical storm. Those documents are necessary to get funding and other resources approved for the disaster victims. This is a more cost-effective way of offering assistance.

“Typhoon Soudelor is the biggest storm to hit Saipan in 30 years, and the situation is desperate,” said Kathy Pascoe, Red Cross Volunteer.  “Being virtually deployed is a great opportunity for volunteers that either can’t take time off from work to deploy, or for family reasons… they can still help those in need.

Kathy has done more than 200 case reviews from the comfort of her own home, for both the Typhoon and a month earlier for the flooding disaster in Texas.

The Red Cross responded immediately to support sheltering, feeding and damage assessment efforts by deploying numerous volunteers to this part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands shortly after the typhoon. We opened close to 1000 cases and provided over 22,000 meals and snacks, more than 2,000 health and mental health contacts and over 38,500 emergency relief items to the residents affected by this disaster.

Because of the extensive damage, the Red Cross created a robust relief plan to get immediate help to people who need it. The virtual support program delivers financial assistance with critical supplies to help people leave emergency shelters and begin recovering from Soudelor.

How You Can Help

Residents can help people affected by disasters like Typhoon Soudelor and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Go online or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

You can also become a Red Cross Volunteer. Like Kathy, you can train to help virtually and / or respond locally. Search now for opportunities to volunteer – we are always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents, and skill levels.

Red Cross Saves 15 Lives and Installs 100,000 Smoke Alarms in Less Than a Year

WASHINGTON D.C. – August 13, 2015 — The American Red Cross and its partners have saved 15 lives and installed more than 100,000 smoke alarms in homes across the country during the last ten months. This accomplishment is part of a nationwide Home Fire Campaign launched last October to reduce the number of people who die or are injured during a fire in their home.

124307_EOYS_2015_Infographic_SocialMedia_1200x1200_FINAL-01“Those 100,000 smoke alarms will be out there protecting families every day for years to come, thanks to the dedication of local volunteers and partners going door-to-door to spread preparedness information in their communities,” said Russ Paulsen, the executive director, community preparedness and resilience services for the Red Cross. “We can count 15 of our neighbors who are still with us today and we know there will be more lives saved. This success lays the groundwork to more than double our efforts next year.”

Since the Home Fire Campaign began, the Red Cross and its partners have installed smoke alarms in almost 2,000 cities and towns in all 50 states. The campaign has already helped save 15 lives in five states ranging from a 3-year-old child to a 73-year-old grandmother.

“Home fires are tragic and devastating to those who experience them”, said Paulsen. “The Red Cross is committed to mobilizing volunteers and local partners to help people protect and prepare both their families and communities.”

In the Gold Country Region, we have:

  • Canvassed: 2,190 homes
  • Installed: 1,131 Smoke Alarms
  • Developed: 781 emergency plans
  • Replaced: 339 batteries

On on October 10, we’re planning to installed more than 1000 smoke alarms in just ONE DAY! Visit, http://bit.ly/Goal1000 for more information and to sign up.

The campaign is a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Working with fire departments and community groups across the country, the Red Cross is installing smoke alarms in homes in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching residents about fire prevention and preparedness.124307_EOYS_2015_Infographic_SocialMedia_1200x1200_FINAL-02

The Home Fire Campaign is powered by more than 1,800 local community partners and more than 40 national partner organizations. Key supporters include: International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA); United States Fire Administration (USFA); Rebuilding Together; Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation; Meals on Wheels America; Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS); National Council on Independent Living (NCIL); Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA); Vision 20/20; Project Paradigm; Hope worldwide; Habitat for Humanity; Portlight Strategies, Inc.; and Lott Carey.

WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO The Red Cross asks everyone to take two simple steps to help prevent injury and death during a fire in their home – check their smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home. Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day. The plan should include two ways to get out of every room and a place to meet outside. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.

People should also install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. The alarms should be tested every month and the batteries replaced at least once a year.

People can visit redcross.org to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire or contact their local Red Cross to learn about the location of local smoke alarm installation events. They can also help by volunteering their time or making a donation today to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.

Huge ‘Thank you’ to Flowers Food Bakery

The wonderful team at Flowers Food Bakery, in Modesto, has done it again, and this time we want to extend our deepest appreciation to them for all of the generous gifts and services that they have and continue to provide.

Thursday, August 6th, to help survivors of the Mad River and Fork Fire Complexes, Flowers Food made a special delivery to our shelters that were open in Trinity County. Breakfast and snack items were served to everyone!

Last year during the King, Boles and Applegate fires the wonderful team went above and beyond to bring the community together during their time of need.

They delivered product to our emergency command center in Sacramento and to our shelter in Applegate. They even went as far as to host an amazing barbecue lunch for the volunteers and staff!

These acts of kindness fall right in line with the American Red Cross values; compassionate, collaborative, creative, credible and committed! We are truly grateful!

International Youth Day: Carolyn’s Powerful Survival Story

August 12 is International Youth Day! And the American Red Cross is celebrating our young partners like Carolyn Strzalka, President of the Red Cross Club at the University of Michigan. Carolyn is a blood recipient, a donor and a Red Cross volunteer.

Here’s Carolyn’s Inspiring Story:

Carolyn-Strzalka In high school I was an active student. I volunteered regularly at a local animal shelter and organized local food donation drives in addition to working hard on my studies. As varsity soccer captain, I ate healthy and exercised, making sure to take care of my health. So when I turned 18 and started experiencing sharp abdominal pains I knew something was not right.

When my doctor told me that I needed to have my gall bladder removed two days before moving into my college dorm I was nervous I would miss out on all the welcome week activities. As a stubborn 18 year old, I adamantly told him that after my cholecystectomy I would be going off to college. He explained to me the surgery was an out-patient surgery and I should be recovered enough to partake in any non-strenuous activities. But the day after I moved into my dorm room I knew something was not right. After not being able to keep any food down and almost fainting walking back to my dorm room I called my mom and asked her to take me to the hospital.

In the emergency room, the physicians told my parents that there was a very low chance that I would survive. I had been internally bleeding into my stomach for 3 days and my red blood cell levels were at a third of what they should have been. He suggested I receive two blood transfusions, but cautioned my parents that it may already be too late. Fortunately, the blood transfusions saved my life.

I am beyond thankful for the blood donors whose donations have allowed me to be alive today. These donors have a special place in my heart because I have type O negative blood and can only receive blood from other type O negative people.

After this experience I wanted to give back to blood donors who helped save lives like mine. However, after receiving a blood transfusion you are not able to donate blood for a year. So I began volunteering at blood drives to let people know how much their donation meant to people like me. While volunteering I got to hear inspiring stories about why other people donated blood, including stories from people who donate blood every 56 days. After experiencing the need for blood donations first hand, I now am inspired to donate every 56 days as well.

How to Get Involved:

Join Carolyn by choosing to make a difference in your community this summer with the Red Cross, either through blood donation, taking a babysitting class or volunteering. You can find more ways to get involved at RedCrossYouth.org. #ChooseYourDay