Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Terrifying Night Leaves Lasting Impression on Volunteer

The American Red Cross responds to disasters nationwide. There really hasn’t been a busier disaster season than 2020 with wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. However, the leading cause of disaster response for the Red Cross are home fires. Nationally, our volunteers are responding to a home fire or other disasters every eight minutes. The fire can be devastating to families.

Jessica Fisher, a native of Knoxville, knows what a home fire can do to a family. In 1997, when Fisher was just 16 years old, her family lost everything in a fire. Her little brothers were playing with matches in bed and started a fire. Everyone escaped the fire, but that night has stayed with her.

“It was an awful experience and we were trapped when the fire went down the hallway,” she said. “We had no escape plan. I had to run back into my bedroom and jump from my window. I was barefoot and in my pajamas. My brothers were just six then. It was so cold then because it was March. The enormity of that night was unreal.”

It wasn’t long after the fire department arrived that the Red Cross disaster volunteers came. “There were two ladies and one gentleman from Red Cross,” Fisher added. “I will never forget that one of the ladies was so kind. I was freezing so she sat next to me and wrapped me in a blanket.” The volunteer told Fisher and her family she would sit with them and make a plan of where they could go and stay for a few days while they worked on their case. “They were with us every step of the way, when we need it.” 

In March, Fisher decided it was time to give back. She decided to volunteer with the Red Cross as a Disaster Action Team member. “I remember how it felt,” she added. “I have taken my training and I am on call. I am there whenever they need me.” 

She has already been on several calls including a house fire that took her back to that fateful night with her family. “It was a man who lost everything in a duplex fire,” she remembered. “He lost his two dogs and was so very sad. I remember that feeling. It is like you are in deep water in your emotions. I want to be that person to help people overcome that fear.” 

While she volunteers her time in the East Tennessee Chapter, all chapters in the Tennessee Region need volunteers. Whether it is working as a disaster volunteer or as a medical screener in a donation facility, volunteers are desperately needed. Fisher said, “You can donate your time, blood, and money. Just be there. There are so many people who have these horrible things happen and they need someone in that moment and if you can be that person.”

“We are so honored by Jessica has come on board to volunteer with us and she is already an outstanding volunteer,” said Sharon Hudson, executive director for the East Tennessee Chapter. “She is recruiting others to volunteer and is always there when we need her. Her story is really a full circle mission moment.” 

For more information on how to prevent and prepare for a home fire, click on

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, please visit,

Monday, June 8, 2020

Virtual Preparedness Presentations – Tennessee Region

The American Red Cross Tennessee Region offers virtual programs to help adults and children better prepare for emergencies.

In the days of COVID-19 virus, our preparedness classes had to change. The Red Cross is happy to offer virtual classes through Microsoft Teams weekly.

Be Red Cross Ready is a free preparedness education curriculum for communities designed to help people understand, prepare for, and respond appropriately to disasters. Join us in our new virtual format to learn about disaster preparedness.

Be Red Cross Ready webinars:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 6:00 p.m. CDT/7:00 p.m. EDT
    Topic: Tornadoes
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  • Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 6:00 p.m. CST/7:00 p.m. EST
    Topic: Flooding
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  • Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:00 p.m. CST/7:00 p.m. EST 
    Topic: Preparedness for Older Adults
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  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6:00 p.m. CST/7:00 p.m. EST 
    Topic: Tornadoes
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  • Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 6:00 p.m. CST/7:00 p.m. EST
    Topic: Home Fire Safety
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To register, visit

The Pillowcase Project is a free interactive preparedness program designed for children in grades 3 through 5. The program aims to increase awareness and understanding of natural hazards, teach safety and emotional coping skills, as well as the importance of personal preparedness. Through the presentation, students learn the best ways to stay safe and how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during a disaster. Students will receive a digital workbook and will be encouraged to decorate and personalize their pillowcases and share what they’ve learned with friends and family.

The Pillowcase Project webinars:

  • Next date to TBD. To learn more about our preparedness webinars or to schedule a session, please contact

To register, visit

For more preparedness resources visit: 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Tips Following Power Outages

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 5, 2020 - Power outages can happen during any season, but it seems that this spring, Tennesseans have had their fair share of outages. High winds have plagued the state since early March with tornadoes, derechos and severe thunderstorms leaving power lines down and outages statewide.

“It is always important to be prepared before a storm hits and takes out power,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive director for the American Red Cross of the Tennessee Region. “Beyond being inconvenient, an outage can lead to dangers, including home fires, as we have seen.”

There are steps the American Red Cross suggests citizens take to ensure safety following an outage:

Staying Safe Indoors
· Use flash lights in the dark, not candles.
· Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out, and roads will be congested.
· If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely. You can find out more about generator safety at  

Food Safety
· Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
· First use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Then use food from the freezer.
· Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
· If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
· Keep food in a dry, cool spot and always keep it covered. 

Electrical Equipment
· Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
· Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
· Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.

Tennesseans have experienced a very active spring storm season in 2020. The American Red Cross has been responding to statewide emergencies that have left hundreds of thousands without power and thousands homeless since March 3. In the first five months of 2020, the Red Cross has responded to several tornadoes in middle Tennessee, tornadoes in April in both Hamilton and Bradley counties, and in May a derecho and high wind storms throughout Tennessee.

Stay safe and be prepared with the free Red Cross Emergency App. Receive weather alerts and information about what to do before, during and after severe weather. You can easily toggle between English and Spanish. Search "American Red Cross" in your app store or visit to download today.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Red Cross Temporary Emergency Lodging for Hamilton and Bradley Counties, Tennessee

Decreased need for emergency lodging as residents begin to return to their communities

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Wednesday, April 22, 2020 – American Red Cross workers continue to serve around the clock to provide comfort and support to people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes that struck Southeast Tennessee on Easter Sunday, April 12. The Red Cross has provided more than 600 individuals with temporary emergency lodging in local area motels and hotels, provided more than 9,900 meals and snacks, and distributed more than 17,400 disaster emergency supplies to people cleaning up and repairing their tornado-damaged homes. Volunteer health services and mental health professionals have provided 870 individual care contacts. 

As people begin to clean up their homes, power is being restored and closed roads are cleared, there is less need for Red Cross temporary emergency lodging. When Red Cross temporary emergency lodging locations begin to close it is a sign that parts of the community are starting to recover. Residents are making plans for their next steps by either returning home or moving to a more comfortable and long-term housing situations. Emergency lodging is not intended to stay open for long periods of time. That’s why organizations involved in relief efforts are striving to help people whose homes are unlivable.

Red Cross workers are now connecting with remaining temporary emergency lodging residents to help them plan for the future and make housing arrangements in partnership with other community organizations. The Red Cross is committed to assisting all emergency lodging residents in finding a place to return to their communities. 

It is important to note that the Red Cross was in Southeast Tennessee communities before this disaster, and we will remain here, responding to home fires and future storms, and helping residents build more resilient communities. 

All Red Cross services, including financial assistance, are free and available to eligible households, regardless of citizenship or residency status, nationality, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.
Alojamiento de emergencia temporal de la Cruz Roja para
Condados de Hamilton y Bradley, Tennessee

Disminución de la necesidad de alojamiento de emergencia a medida que los residentes comienzan a regresar a sus comunidades

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Miercoles 22 de abril de 2020 - Los trabajadores de la Cruz Roja Americana continúan sirviendo las 24 horas para brindar consuelo y apoyo a las personas cuyas casas fueron dañadas o destruidas por los tornados que azotaron el sureste de Tennessee el domingo de Pascua, 12 de abril. La Cruz Roja ha brindado alojamiento temporal de emergencia a más de 600 personas en moteles y hoteles locales, ha provisto más de 9,900 comidas y refrigerios, y ha distribuido más de 17,400 suministros de emergencia por desastre a las personas que limpian y reparan sus hogares dañados por el tornado. Los servicios voluntarios de salud y los profesionales de salud mental han brindado 870 contactos de atención individual.

A medida que las personas comienzan a limpiar sus hogares, se restablece la electricidad y se despejan las carreteras cerradas, hay menos necesidad de alojamiento temporal de emergencia de la Cruz Roja. Cuando los lugares de alojamiento temporal de emergencia de la Cruz Roja comienzan a cerrarse, es una señal de que partes de la comunidad están comenzando a recuperarse. Los residentes están haciendo planes para sus próximos pasos al regresar a su hogar o al mudarse a una situación de vivienda más cómoda y a largo plazo. El alojamiento de emergencia no está destinado a permanecer abierto durante largos períodos de tiempo. Es por eso que las organizaciones involucradas en los esfuerzos de ayuda se esfuerzan por ayudar a las personas cuyos hogares no son habitables.

Los trabajadores de la Cruz Roja ahora se están conectando con los residentes de alojamiento temporal de emergencia restantes para ayudarlos a planificar el futuro y hacer arreglos de vivienda en asociación con otras organizaciones comunitarias. La Cruz Roja se compromete a ayudar a todos los residentes de alojamiento de emergencia a encontrar un lugar para regresar a sus comunidades.
Es importante tener en cuenta que la Cruz Roja estuvo en las comunidades del sudeste de Tennessee antes de este desastre, y nos quedaremos aquí, respondiendo a incendios en el hogar y tormentas futuras, y ayudando a los residentes a construir comunidades más resistentes.

Todos los servicios de la Cruz Roja, incluida la asistencia financiera, son gratuitos y están disponibles para los hogares elegibles, independientemente de su ciudadanía o residencia, nacionalidad, raza, orientación sexual, creencias religiosas, opiniones de clase o políticas.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Tornado Victim Grateful for American Red Cross Assistance

Kristin Manuel

“I just can’t believe this,” a tornado victim in southeast Tennessee recently said to Kristin Manuel, when Kristin called to make sure she had access to everything to meet her immediate needs.

Kristin asked if she was okay. In tears, the lady said, “No, you don’t understand. I lost everything, but the Red Cross has put me up somewhere where I am safe. The Red Cross is feeding me. And now, you’re just calling to check on me. You know we may have lost everything, but it is so nice to know that we’re actually not alone.”

Kristin Manuel serves as the disaster program manager for the East Tennessee Red Cross, but after the powerful tornadoes that struck southeast Tennessee, she has served as the call center coordinator. She and her call center team respond to incoming calls to the Red Cross and make sure people who called in are followed up with. She estimates since the call center opened the day after the tornadoes, her team has responded to nearly 500 calls.

The Red Cross’s response to disasters looks different during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even those working virtually make a powerful impact on those who were affected by the recent tornadoes.

American Red Cross disaster workers have been responding with boots on the ground and virtually to provide comfort and support, including temporary emergency lodging, food, emergency relief supplies, emotional support, health services and recovery assistance to people impacted by the Sunday, April 12 tornadoes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Red Cross Responds to Tornadoes in Tennessee

Disasters don’t stop amid COVID-19 outbreak 

The American Red Cross is responding across several states from Texas to Georgia after catastrophic tornadoes touched down in the south over the weekend. Officials said as many as 56 tornadoes were reported this weekend. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Red Cross has new measures in place to deliver help to people in need while also following social distancing guidelines.

In Tennessee, the impact of the severe storms and flooding was experienced across the state with the greatest damage occurring in Hamilton and Bradley counties in Southeast Tennessee. Disaster responders mobilized quickly both on the ground and virtually to provide safe respite, meals, and comfort to displaced families. Health services and mental health support are also available virtually to the families as they cope with the realization of this disaster and begin their recovery.

Joel Sullivan, Regional Executive for the Red Cross of Tennessee, explained,

“The safety of both those displaced and of our disaster workforce while providing critical services is our highest priority,” he said. “We are providing non-congregate sheltering to displaced people to support social distancing in the face of COVID-19. In the coming days we will begin supporting those impacted through virtual casework to identify additional needs.”

The Red Cross is working closely with partners and local emergency management officials to determine what other help is needed. 

You Can Help 

Help the American Red Cross continue to deliver its lifesaving mission nationwide amid this public health emergency. Your donation enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters like the recent southern tornadoes and storms.Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text 'REDCROSS' to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Red Cross Volunteers Providing Casework to Communities in Southeast Tennessee Following Severe Easter Sunday Storms

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., April 13, 2020 — American Red Cross volunteers and staff are working with local officials to provide help for those affected by severe storms that tore through Hamilton and Bradley counties on Easter Sunday.

If you or someone you know is need of assistance due to the storms, please call 1-800-RED CROSS.

We are working with local first responders and community officials to support what is needed by our citizens.

-Let friends and family know you’re safe.
-If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
-Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
-Stay out of damaged buildings.
-Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.

More safety tips:

HOW TO HELP The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by storms and countless other crises by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from these disasters.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.