Tuesday, June 28, 2016

TN Red Crossers now deployed to WV and CA

Tennessee Red Crossers have now been deployed to both West Virginia and California. As of last night, 25 Red Crossers from our state have been deployed to help folks affected by the historic flooding in West Virginia. Additionally, one Tennessee responder has been assigned to help the many people displaced by destructive wildfires in California. Read more about how the Red Cross is responding to these disasters and how you can help: rdcrss.org/292Rjn9.

In this photo, Red Cross worker Marko Kokic surveys the damage on the outskirts of Lewisburg, West Virginia, where the waters of Howard Creek are still swollen. Its banks are full of debris from flooding following heavy rains.

Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Monday, June 27, 2016

20 TN Red Crossers Join Hundreds in WV for Flood Relief Efforts

As of last night, 20 Tennessee Red Crossers had joined hundreds of Red Crossers from across the country on the ground in West Virginia, responding to the disastrous flooding that has forced people from their homes. We also had four drivers on standby for Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs). In this photo, Red Cross employee Joanna King assesses flood damage at the home of Joan Parker in Clendenin, West Virginia, and talks with Joan and her family.

To help us help others in West Virginia, you can donate to the Red Cross by visiting redcross.org/donate, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Update on WV Flood Relief Efforts

As we mentioned last night, several Tennessee Red Crossers have been deployed to West Virginia to assist folks affected by the devastating floods there, and more Red Crossers from our state will be deployed soon. Check out this article for the latest on Red Cross flood relief efforts in the state.
If you'd like to help us help people affected by the floods in West Virginia, you can donate at redcross.org/donate
 and choose "West Virginia Floods" in the drop-down menu below the words "Use my donation to support." You can also donate by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

TN Red Crossers Deploy to WV to Assist Flood Relief Efforts

Red Crossers from throughout Tennessee have been or will be deployed soon to West Virginia to assist in flood relief efforts there. Some have left this morning, and more are scheduled to leave tomorrow and Monday. Additionally, several standby Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) drivers are on awaiting activation.
Since Thursday, devastating floods have hit West Virginia, covering a large portion of the state. Red Cross workers have opened numerous shelters in several counties and are providing meals, relief supplies, and other assistance to those affected as well as meals for first responders. Red Cross disaster mental health workers are helping people cope. Health workers are helping to replace needed items like prescription medications and eyeglasses. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation and working with state and local officials and partners to help ensure people get the help they need.
If you'd like to help people affected by disasters like flooding and countless other crises, please consider making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan, June 2016

My favorite season has arrived, and while I look forward to weekends on the lake and by the pool, I always keep in mind that long, hot days of summer can bring dangerously high temperatures. Thankfully, the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to stay safe when it’s hot outside.

HOT CARS CAN BE DEADLY Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:

·  Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

·  Avoid extreme temperature changes.

·  Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

·  Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
·  Postpone outdoor games and activities.

·  Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

·  Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

·  Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

·  If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

HEAT STROKE LIFE-THREATENING Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

I encourage you to download the free Red Cross Emergency App which provides 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts, as well as the Red Cross First Aid App to put expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hands.

I hope you have a safe and fun-filled summer!

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Mike Cowles - June 2016


Warm weather has arrived and you know what that means – time to go swimming!  My family is about to make our annual trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and we will spend a lot of time at the beach and the pool. While it’s always a fun and carefree time, we must also be very serious about safety.

Below are a few tips you can use to have a more fun and safer summer.

1. Swim in areas that have lifeguards

2. Use the buddy system. My kids always have a buddy and likewise are their friend’s buddy when at summer camp.

3. Never leave a child unattended near water.

4. If a child or adult is an inexperienced swimmer, make sure they are wearing an approved life jacket.  While this may not be the cool thing to do, it is much better than the alternative.

5. Do not play around drains and suction apparatuses.

6. If you are at the beach, be aware of the undertow and rough waves.  Most beaches have a flag system to determine what is going on in the ocean.

7. Finally, use common sense and by doing so I promise you will have a fun and safe time.

It is amazing just how many ways we are able to make a difference in the lives of residents of the communities we serve.  From our lifesaving skills training, to disaster relief, our service to armed forces, vital blood collection, mobile apps to alert you of weather related events, and the training, coordinating and springing into action of our caring volunteers, the Red Cross is there for you.


Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, June 2016

“One Red Cross.”

You may have heard this phrase recently. Although it sounds obvious, do you really know what it means?  Legally, the American Red Cross is a single fiscal entity operating under a nationally-held 501(c)3 document.  While there are local chapters that organize volunteers and deliver the mission within their neighborhoods, all of us are part of that national American Red Cross.

But it's MORE than just legal paperwork.  It refers to the fact that when a large disaster strikes one of us, we all jump to support it by transferring people, resources and donations to where families are suffering. It means that when a soldier deployed in Afghanistan has a family emergency, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces staff will work together to bring him home. It means that if you take CPR in East Tennessee, you can be assured that you're getting the same high-quality training that people in Chicago or Washington D.C. receive.

We live in a world where people travel and move from place to place throughout their lives. Many of us have lived in multiple states and cities. We are diverse in our beliefs, our histories and our cultures.  But when the Red Cross steps up, we are all welcome. We can be united in a mission to provide help for people struck by disaster.

We are One Red Cross.

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Faye Anderson - June 2016

Give a Little Love!

On Saturday, June 4, I was honored to stand before a group of people who have become my heroes over the past year and a half at our Annual Volunteer Appreciation event. We have a group of over 400 volunteers ready to spring into action all the way down to the Alabama state line. Everyone brings something new to the table here at the Tennessee River Chapter - every personality is unique and our volunteers are dedicated, and ready to pass on the mission of the Red Cross.  Although we could never fully repay them for everything they do and the joy that they bring to the faces of those in need, we honored them with things like t-shirts, cups, caps, mugs and plaques at our appreciation event.  How small that was in comparison to the smiles they put back on the faces of someone who went to bed with a plan for the future only to face the dawn having lost everything.

What makes our volunteers unique? What could possibly make them want to get out of bed in the middle of the night when their phone rings? They go out in the rain, wind or snow to help out a complete stranger…why? I think I may know the answer….it’s a little four letter word…love!  Love for their neighbors; love for this mission of making sure anyone affected by a disaster has a start toward a new beginning.  Giving out love and hope for tomorrow is the greatest gift that you can give anyone and our dedicated group of men and women are some of the best trained volunteers in the state of Tennessee.  

So to all of you that serve, all of you that give of your time, treasure or talent, I honor you and your commitment to a chapter that will celebrate our 100th year in 2017.  Your hearts is beat loud and clear at the Tennessee River Chapter, and it is quite an honor to be working alongside each of you!

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - June 2016

There is no mistaking the heat of summer has arrived, and so have all the things we couldn't wait to do when the warm weather hits!

As much as I love participating in summer activities, having a daily place in the Red Cross has made me aware of the threatening elements of summer and how best to be prepared for them.

I will be on the road, as many Americans will, anticipating escape and relax mode at the beach or a lake. I have to keep in mind that no matter what, I am responsible for those who are traveling with me. I clock safe time in the sun by programming my iPod with songs in fifteen minute sets with silent breaks in between for a period of an hour. This way, everyone gets an automatic cue to turn before they burn. Naturally, that system is for high intensity sun hours and works very effectively in combination with the application of an effective sunscreen above SPF 15.

I always prepare by packing a family quick kit with insect repellent, antiseptic spray, pain relief medications, antibacterial ointment, gauze and band aids... but the main ingredient for safety in the sun is HYDRATION. This calls for at least a few gallons of water that should be enough for four people for several hours to a half day. ...and soft drinks are not a substitute for H2O. In my experience, one single multi-functional summer saver is a telescoping beach umbrella: shelter and shade.

If your destination comes with lots of sand and waves, don't forget that you are in tropical storm and hurricane season. Today's most popular go gear, the smart phone, should include the Red Cross Emergency App. The ideal anywhere-you-are info source for severe weather alerts will come in handy checking the weather before planning your day. It's free to download from Apple or Google Play.

I like to do a little advance planning if I am driving, by having an evacuation route I can plug into my GPS. Put the all-state highway patrol numbers in your phone and remember for immediate evacuation information all you do is dial 511. This number is America's travel information number and works in all states. Of course, if you have an immediate emergency, you would still call 911. If you experience flooding while on the road, don’t forget “turn around, don’t drown.”

Maybe your vacation is a daily one at the pool. This always calls for common sense. Most kids who drown in home or public pools were out of sight for less than five minutes. Water safety and swim lessons before getting into the water make for more conscientious kids. Moms and dads can learn Red Cross CPR while the children are taking their learn to swim classes. You can sign up at www.campusrec.utc.edu for your American Red Cross aquatics courses this summer.

Here’s to a fun and safe summer!

Linda Gilliam: Volunteer of the Month, May 2016

Linda Gilliam
Congratulations to Linda Gilliam, the May 2016 Volunteer of the Month for the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee.

As a young girl, Linda Gilliam always dreamed of being a part of the American Red Cross. In December 2015, her lifelong goal became reality. As you enter through the doors of the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee, you will be greeted with a smiling face and a warm welcome. Linda contributes by volunteering at the front desk for 30 hours weekly, greeting and talking with volunteers and guests who come from all walks of life, leading them in the right direction, and loving and helping them in any way that she can.

Linda’s positive attitude, dedication, and eagerness to show gratitude towards others is evident in her everyday tasks at American Red Cross.

“I like helping people and being with people. I enjoy seeing volunteers that come in, giving them a hug, telling them what a good job they’re doing, and how grateful we are for their hard work.”

As a volunteer, Linda assists in any way that makes a difference inside and outside the office. Her consistency in staying dedicated to the organization and her authentic personality brightens others’ days, which makes American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee so appreciative of her kind and selfless heart.

“It is like one big happy family to me – everyone loves each other.”

Thank you, Linda, for choosing American Red Cross every day and not only being a reliable volunteer but joyful in every aspect.

American Red Cross Volunteers Respond to Canada Wildfires

Louise Vande Wiele
On Thursday, May 13, 2016, a team of 15 American Red Cross caseworkers deployed to the Edmonton Expo Centre to begin assisting Fort McMurray evacuees. This sizeable center serves both as a shelter, and as a centralized location for clients to receive assistance from various organizations. The location was ideal in allowing caseworkers to make referrals to agencies within the same building.

The American Red Cross team served upwards of 400 clients in eight hours. The team divided into three groups – client casework, computer services, and triage.  Caseworkers verified registrations, made needed adjustments, and referred clients. The computer team helped clients get registered, set up electronic banking, and access the reunification site. On the front line, the triage team answered questions about Canadian Red Cross assistance, helped clients through the EFT process, and referred many to services offered by other agencies.

Triage team member, Louise Vande Wiele, Heart of Tennessee chapter, shared, “It was amazing to have many people come back in to hug me and thank me for my help, and to say that the referrals I gave them were exactly what they needed, or that what I taught them worked perfectly and their funds were now deposited.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Preparing for Power Outages During Heat Waves

With the current heat wave, folks will be using more power running air conditioning units and other appliances. Unfortunately, power outages can occur during extreme weather conditions like today's. Learn how to prepare for a power outage and know what to do during and after one with this checklist: rdcrss.org/266bqmS.

Speaking of the heat wave, here's another checklist to help you stay safe during these conditions: rdcrss.org/28IfYCj.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Texas Floods: Red Cross Workers Lend a Hand

Hundreds of American Red Cross workers are on the ground in Texas, helping residents impacted by yet another devastating flooding situation. The flooding has damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

Over the last year, the American Red Cross has helped tens of thousands of people across Texas impacted by relentless severe weather, flooding and tornadoes in more than 130 counties—many of which were struck multiple times.

So far this year, the Red Cross helped as:

Texas residents faced tornadoes and flooding over the Christmas holidays which destroyed hundreds of homes.
A powerful storm brought more flooding to the region, again destroying homes and businesses in March.
Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, came to a near standstill in April when record floods impacted more than 5,000 homes.
The present flooding already damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, with more floods expected as heavy rain continues for the next several days.

Dozens of Red Cross workers from Tennessee have deployed, and continue to deploy, to Texas to lend a helping hand.  Thank you to all those who have served!

Monday, June 13, 2016

TN Disaster Mental Health Workers Deploy to Orlando

Three Tennessee Red Cross disaster mental health workers are deploying to Orlando, Florida, to assist people affected by the tragedy there. The three Red Crossers are Dianne Britton and Lynda Thompson from the East Tennessee chapter and Steve Thayer from the Southeast chapter.
As we mentioned yesterday, the Red Cross in that part of Florida has been supporting emergency responders by providing snacks and water, and the Red Cross is coordinating closely with local officials to determine how it can best support the affected community over the coming days and weeks.
Again, our hearts go out to all those who are affected by this tragic shooting in Orlando.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Red Cross Issues Statement on Orlando Mass Shooting

The thoughts and deepest sympathies of the entire American Red Cross family are with the people of Orlando and those affected by Sunday morning’s tragic shooting. Local Red Cross volunteers are supporting emergency responders by providing snacks and water, and the Red Cross is coordinating closely with local officials to determine how we can best support the affected community over the coming days and weeks.
While we do not typically serve hospitals in the Orlando area, the Red Cross is providing a small number of blood products to support Florida hospitals in response to the shooting, and we stand ready to provide additional blood and blood products as needed.
How To Help
Volunteer blood donors are needed each and every day to help save lives. In fact, right now, blood and platelet donations are being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations come in. Today’s tragedy illustrates that it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps during an emergency.
We know that many people want to help. Eligible individuals can make an appointment to give blood in the coming weeks and months by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. The Red Cross is grateful for all donors who generously give blood throughout the country.
Right now, the Red Cross has what it needs to respond to this devastating incident. While the Red Cross is not accepting financial donations designated specifically for this event, we always need the public to help support our work. The Red Cross responds to nearly 66,000 disasters each year, and donations for Red Cross Disaster Relief are used to help people and communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small.

Friday, June 10, 2016

TN Red Crosser Deployment Update

Some Tennessee Red Crossers have returned from deployment from Texas and Canada, while others have recently deployed.
Two Red Crossers have returned from assisting with wildfire relief efforts in Alberta, Canada, and two have returned from assisting with flood relief efforts in Texas. Additionally, we have nine new deployed Red Crossers from throughout the state, most deployed to Texas. In total, we have 26 Tennessee Red Crossers currently deployed outside the state.
Pictured here are Red Cross volunteers Daniel Rose and Bob Wallace. Daniel is helping folks affected by the floods in Texas, while Bob has been reporting on the wildfire relief efforts in Canada. Thanks to all of our Red Crossers who are helping others outside Tennessee!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Thanks to Our Volunteers on Deployment

Daniel Rose is one of the Tennessee Red Cross volunteers who deployed to Texas today with an Emergency Response Vehicle to assist with flood relief efforts. Daniel, who's from the Nashville chapter, is one of 17 Tennessee Red Cross volunteers currently deployed to Texas, which has once again seen significant rainfall and devastating flooding.
Additionally, four Tennessee Red Cross volunteers are still in Canada assisting with wildfire relief efforts. As we've shared recently from volunteer Bob Wallace's photos, Fort McMurray, Alberta, residents began returning to their homes on Wednesday after being evacuated for weeks due to the wildfire, and Red Cross volunteers are helping to make their return easier.
Thanks to all of the Tennessee Red Cross volunteers who are helping others in Texas and Canada!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

TN Red Crosser Shares Stories of Canadian Deployment

Canadian deployment report from Bob Wallace, one of the Tennessee volunteers assisting people affected by the massive wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Here's one of Bob's reports of a Canadian resident returning home after evacuating due to the wildfire:
Fort McMurray resident Terrance Sevenson (pictured here) returned to his home on the first day of re-entry after being evacuated for almost a month due to wildfires that tore through his community. Upon return, he was delighted to find that his home was intact, with just some smell of smoke and the need of a good cleaning. He came into the Discovery Center Welcome site to register with the Red Cross and pick up water, a clean-up kit, and an after-fire kit.
Check out more of Bob's photos and stories of people returning to Fort McMurray (Fort Mac) after the wildfire evacuation.

East TN Responds to Latest Texas Floods

East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes spoke with WBIR-TV and The Daily Times about the chapter's response to the devastating floods in Texas over the past year.
Texas has been hit once again with significant rainfall and devastating flooding in the past week. Michelle told WBIR that four East Tennessee Red Crossers, along with Red Crossers from other Tennessee chapters and across the country, are currently in Texas assisting those affected by the latest disaster.
Michelle, who's been deployed to Texas twice in the past 12 months, also talked with The Daily Times about her experiences helping those displaced by the floods in the state. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

East TN Volunteer Honored by Canadian Red Cross

One of the Tennessee volunteers currently deployed to Canada was honored this weekend by the Canadian Red Cross for outstanding contributions serving those affected by the massive wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
The Canadian Red Cross honored one Canadian and one American, and East Tennessee volunteer John Manners was the American! John is pictured here with Canadian Red Cross President and CEO Conrad Sauvé.
John is a Red Cross Disaster Action Team captain from Loudon County, and his dream assignment was going on an international operation. And this has been quite the deployment for John! Just recently, we posted a photo of John when he met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a Red Cross shelter. Congratulations to John!