Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan, July 2016

Joel R. Sullivan
Tennessee has seen numerous storms this summer that have produced incredible lightning, damaging winds and flash flooding.  Just last week, severe storms swept through Middle Tennessee, causing flash flooding in Montgomery, Sumner, and Stewart counties.  To make matters worse, storms continued on subsequent days, causing additional flooding in these counties. Infrastructure was heavily damaged, causing the closure of over 30 roads and 16 bridges.

Red Cross volunteers were there, lending a helping hand as clean up and recovery began.  Disaster assessment and casework volunteers were out in the affected neighborhoods, providing help and hope to families whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed from the flood waters.

I’m proud to see our volunteers continue to step up to the plate and serve our neighbors in their greatest time of need.  Red Cross volunteers are often times the first face someone sees after their home is swept away by a flood or destroyed by a home fire.

I am taking this opportunity to thank all our staff and volunteers for continuing to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Southeast Tennessee June Volunteer of the Month - James Akers

James Akers
Congratulations to James Akers, the June Volunteer of the Month for American Red Cross of Southeast TN. James is a fairly new volunteer who started working with the Red Cross in January as a Disaster Cycle Services volunteer in Mass Care. His main responsibilities include reaching out to past shelters to update their information, calling facilities throughout our region to see if they are interested in being a shelter, and setting up times to do a shelter survey with that group. In his short time here, he has already been a vital part in setting up three YMCAs as shelters. His next goal is to put together at least three shelter teams in our chapter, and we have every confidence that he will be able to accomplish this and more.

James started volunteering at an early age. In high school, he had the opportunity to work with his church youth group on a Habitat for Humanity trip. James states that after that particular trip his love for volunteering expanded from there and he realized he had an interest in it. After volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, James had many other volunteer opportunities including working for a community kitchen, a school in the Apache reservation in Arizona, and disaster relief work in Miami. These are the experiences that brought him to us at the American Red Cross.

James is a great example of what it means to be a volunteer. His dedication is invaluable, and he is a constant and reliable volunteer in our Chattanooga office. One volunteer states, “James is always a pleasure to work with. He is willing to help in any area that he is needed. He has been instrumental in Disaster Services in sheltering and mass care.” James enjoys helping people in any circumstance and it is apparent to all staff and volunteers every day. We appreciate all you do for our community James!


Thank you to our partners at Buffalo Wild Wings (120 Market St, Chattanooga, TN) for donating a gift card to our volunteer of the month, James Akers.

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

A New Beginning

This past year has brought new volunteers, new goals and a renewed sense of excitement for each Red Cross chapter across the region.  In Fiscal Year 2016 (July 2015-June 2016) our chapter leads the state of Tennessee in volunteer recruitment and retention!  We have seen a burst of excitement at the Tennessee River Chapter to continue a mission that will be celebrated in FY17 as 100 years of giving….100 years of passion and a desire to help families that are in need of hope for the future.

We are facing this year with a renewed goal to help everyone within our 12 county areas who are looking for a hero in the darkest time of their lives.  We, our staff and volunteers, vow to be there with support and a hug, 24/7, 365 days a year.

As our 100th year serving Tennessee begins, we as an organization look back and honor the wonderful volunteers and staff members that have carried our mission this far!  From the time of Clara Barton to the present, this organization is still showing up and helping people across the globe.  What a privilege to be part of an organization with this kind of heart! When I see our Red Cross symbol, my heart fills with pride to be part of a mission that is this vast, that stretches across this country as well as internationally!

So, bring on the new year, we have volunteers on call to show up and make a difference in every community that we serve!

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

Almost every conversation since the summer began, starts with comments on the intense heat and how people are dealing with it. In my letter last month, I covered a few precautionary measures to beat the heat in my message about summer preparation. This month, I want to zoom in on just the heat, because it is only going to get hotter before the summer (and fall) are over.

While we try to adapt to higher temperatures in a casual way, it is wise to be mindful that these adverse conditions can result in dehydration very easily, even when you do not realize it is happening. Here are a few things I learned.

High humidity, which often accompanies heat in our state can make the effects of heat even more harmful. Heat related illnesses (even death) can occur with exposure to heat in a single afternoon but  heat stress on the body also has a cumulative effect.

Whenever the heat index is forecast to be at least 105 degrees, a Heat Advisory will be issued.
Whenever the heat index is forecast to be at least 110 degrees for at least 2 days, an Excessive Heat Warning is issued.  It is wise to keep monitoring your local weather for these warnings and plan accordingly.

Meteorologists use the measure of temperature plus humidity to determine how the hot weather "feels" to the body. This indicates the temperature the body "feels". You have heard weather forecasters refer to this as the HEAT INDEX. Here is the surprise. These values are for shady locations only!

Exposure to full sunshine can increase heat Index values by up to 15°F and strong winds that you might consider a relief, actually ADDS heat to the body.

To give you an understanding of the severe effects of heat, a common Heat index of 90 to 105 can produce sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion . Add even higher risks with physical activity.

On very hot days, always minimize your exposure to the sun, wear sunblock,a cool hat, and most of all, stay continuously hydrated.

Providing body cooling measures for outdoor pets is life saving for them too. A fan in a shady spot on your desk, with several bowls of fresh water in a spot that is out of the sun, and even a rigid plastic wading pool full of water under a tree, are good ways to protect your pets from the ravages of this intense summer heat.

Next time you are preparing to head outside in the heat, remember these tips to remain healthy and safe!

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


Fiscal Year 2016 was a heck of a year.  We experienced record flooding, massive wildfires, tornadoes, and a lot of house fires throughout the country, and the Red Cross was there every step of the way. What would you do if one of these disasters happened to you?  Below is a list of questions that I encourage you to ask yourself.

Do you have a disaster kit?  These are very simple to make and should contain basic items that will help you for 3-5 days.  The items you choose to include are up to you.

Rubbermaid box for storage of supplies
Bottled water
Flashlight with extra batteries
Nonperishable food
Paper towels
Wind up radio
Extra money
First aid kit

Do you have the American Red Cross apps downloaded on your cell phone?

Our apps contain a wealth of information on what to do in a particular scenario.  The apps are free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Plan Store for Android by searching for the American Red Cross.

Emergency app
Tornado app
Hurricane app
Wildfire app
Earthquake app
First aid app
Pet first aid app

Do you and your family have a disaster plan?

This plan will make life a lot simpler in the event of an emergency or disaster.  More importantly, it is a must that everyone including your children understands what to do and where to go when something happens.  Things you may want to think about are:

2 designated locations to meet if you get separated
What types of disasters are common in your community
Evacuation routes
Phone numbers memorized of family and friends who you can reach easily
Remember your pets because they’re your family too

Do you have lifesaving training?

It is as simple as 1-2-3 to get the necessary training to save a life.  During an emergency or disaster it only takes moments for someone’s life to be in danger and being trained could be a matter of life or death.  The American Red Cross encourages you to take lifesaving courses to ensure that our community is prepared.  You can contact your local red cross or go to redcross.org to see when and where the next class is available.


By following some of these simple steps you can rest assure that your community will be better prepared for an emergency or disaster.  It takes all of us working together to make our lives better and to have a resilient atmosphere and we owe it to each other to do just that.  I appreciate what you do for your fellow neighbor and for the Red Cross.  Please feel free to visit our office and you might even walk away finding that special place you can fit in amongst the greatest volunteers on earth.


Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, July 2016

July is an exciting month in our area. East Tennessee is proud of its patriotism and historic roots, and we celebrate with fireworks, parades, and flags. While you attend the parties and backyard picnics, it's important to remember that this is also a season that lends itself to disasters big and small.

I'm sure you've heard about the devastating fires in California and the horrifying floods in West Virginia. Close to home, we've experienced home fires throughout our chapter. Even during holidays like Independence Day, Red Cross volunteers are on call, helping families who have lost homes and representing the Red Cross at veterans' events.
There's no such thing as "enough" volunteers. The Red Cross needs you!
If you are interested in volunteering, attend one of our volunteer interest sessions, which are held on the first Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at our Knoxville office. We will answer questions and talk about the different volunteer opportunities. There's no commitment to attend. Bring a friend. We'd love to see you!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Scenes from Stewart Co. Flash Flooding Aftermath

Here are scenes from the aftermath of the flash flooding yesterday in Stewart County in the Tennessee River chapter. Flash floods hit Middle Tennessee hard Wednesday night and early yesterday morning, affecting counties in both the Tennessee River and Nashville Area chapters.
In Stewart County, an evacuation center was setup and cleanup supplies were distributed to people affected by the flooding and storm damage. Additionally, the Red Cross set up shelters in Sumner and Houston Counties.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Red Cross Responds to Flash Flooding in Middle TN

TEMA has declared a State of Emergency after flash flooding hit Middle Tennessee overnight and this morning. The Nashville Area and Tennessee River chapters of the Red Cross have opened shelters for those seeking shelter due to the flooding and storm damage. Flash flood warnings will remain in effect throughout Middle Tennessee because another inch of rain is expected later in the day.
In the Nashville Area chapter, the Red Cross opened a shelter at the Hartsville Pike Church of Christ in Sumner County. And in the Tennessee River chapter, a shelter opened at Tennessee Ridge Independent Baptist Church in Houston County. Additionally, an evacuation center has opened at Big Rock Fire Station in Stewart County, which is also in the Tennessee River chapter.
Other counties in these chapters have also been affected by the flooding. For the latest news on the flooding, check out the news report here.

Friday, July 1, 2016

California Wildfires: One Man's Story

We mentioned earlier this week about the destructive wildfires in California. There's even a Tennessee Red Cross volunteer deployed to California to help folks there. Here's the story of one Californian who was affected by the wildfire:
John Couracos' home in Lake Isabella, California, was destroyed by the Erskine wildfire last week. He lost nearly everything, including his musical instruments—which were very dear to his heart. John and his neighbors in Squirrel Valley had to evacuate as the wildfire approached, and many families had no place to sleep.
Red Cross volunteers stepped up to provide shelter, food, water, healthcare, and comfort amidst the chaos of the disaster. Some families have been able to return to their neighborhoods earlier this week, but safe drinking water and electricity are hard to come by, so the Red Cross is ensuring people have what they need: flashlights, water, meals, and cleanup supplies.

To help us help others in California, 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.