Saturday, October 31, 2015

AT&T Doesn’t Have to Look Far for Inspiration to Support #SCFlood Relief

Story and photo by: Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross

Since the day the floods began across South Carolina in early October, the support area businesses and organizations have shown for this community has been overwhelming. Many of these companies have come in to their local Red Cross office to deliver their generous donations to help the people of South Carolina in person. When AT&T officials brought an amazing $50,000 gift into the Central South Carolina Chapter in Columbia, they also brought along a special visitor.
(L-R) Ted Creech, AT&T Director of External Relations in South Carolina;
Tiffanie Spencer, AT&T Retail Associate;
Pamela Lackey, AT&T State President for South Carolina;
Beth Shwedo, American Red Cross of Central SC Board Chair;
Louise Welch Williams, American Red Cross Palmetto SC Regional CEO;
Don Cheeks, American red Cross of Central SC Board Member.

“My husband just met with the Red Cross this morning,” said Tiffanie Spencer, a Retail Associate with AT&T. On the morning of Sunday, October 4, life changed for Spencer and her family.

“Our son woke us up at about 3:30am and said, ‘it’s flooding’,” she says. “I looked out the window, the water was already above the top of my car tire. My husband checked in the basement. Wow, the water was rushing in so fast. Within about 30 minutes, our couches and fridge were floating.”

Spencer and her family were able to evacuate safely, and after staying with friends and in a hotel for about a week, they have moved into a new apartment. They were able to save some of their clothing and bedroom furniture from upstairs, but even their mattresses and box springs were too damp to salvage.

Spencer left the Central SC Chapter Wednesday morning with a Red Cross clean-up kit in hand to help salvage what she can, but the road to recovery will be a long one for Tiffanie and her family. The Red Cross caseworkers her husband met with earlier in the day will be there to support them along the way, including help in creating long-term recovery plans, navigating paperwork and locating available resources. Thanks in large part to the generosity of companies like Spencer’s own employers at AT&T.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Volunteer Connections Abound

By Kimmy Venter, American Red Cross

When devastating flooding struck South Carolina in early October, Red Cross volunteers from across the country sprang into action to help people in need. In total, more than 1,700 Red Cross workers have been mobilized to provide food and shelter, hand out relief supplies, offer emotional support, help with recovery planning, and support all of the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that made this disaster response possible.
Hundreds of volunteers in South Carolina have spent weeks away from home to serve those affected by the floods. Despite being far from family and friends, the connections made between Red Crossers working to help others in need made for a special deployment experience for many.

Red Cross volunteers John Fouts of East Lansing, Michigan
and Herbert Wolfe of Rochester, New York exchange information
 at the Disaster Relief Operations headquarters in Columbia,
South Carolina after discovering the bond they share as
Vietnam veterans.
(Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)
John Fouts and Herbert Wolfe have been volunteering with the Red Cross for years, but in Columbia, South Carolina, they discovered a connection that goes much farther back.
“I saw his hat,” said Fouts, of East Lansing, Michigan, describing a hat Wolfe was wearing with a Vietnam veteran’s patch on the front. “I went right up to him, I asked him where he’d served, and I said ‘welcome home’.”

When Wolfe, of Rochester, New York, replied, the two men quickly discovered a new bond between them – both were stationed at Lai Khe from 1968 to 1969, serving in the 1st Infantry Division during the Vietnam War.

“We’ve never met before this [Red Cross] deployment, but we’re buds,” said Fouts. “All of us who served in Vietnam – we’re a fraternity, a brotherhood.”

Their lives have taken very different paths since 1969, but in retirement, both men found ways to make a difference by volunteering with the Red Cross. 

“It’s another family,” Wolfe said. “It’s somewhere you can help people, so it seems to be a fit for me.”

Red Cross volunteer nurses Debi O’Neil of Lafayette, Indiana
and Bob Fitzgerald of Rouses Point, New York bring each other
up to speed on health services activities taking place at a
 multi-agency resource center in Gadsden, South Carolina.
(Photo by Kimmy Venter/American Red Cross)

Debi O’Neil and Bob Fitzgerald were first introduced upon their arrival in South Carolina. Both trained nurses, they were deployed to provide health services to people affected by the devastating floods.

“We just met 10 days ago, but we’re best friends now," said O’Neil, with a smile. “We’re BFF!”

Fitzgerald, from Rouses Point, New York, and O’Neil, from Lafayette, Indiana, spent nearly two weeks working together to provide medical care and comfort in flood-impacted communities across the state.

“We’re here for the same reasons, with the same skill sets,” Fitzgerald said, explaining how working together to take care of others created a bond between him, O’Neil, and other volunteer nurses on the job. “It’s easy to get along with someone with a good heart.”

Red Cross volunteers Shawn Scott-Fitzgerald of Haslett,
Michigan and Shamim Jiwa-Kassam of Lititz, Pennsylvania
share a laugh to start the day in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
(Photo by Kimmy Venter/American Red Cross)
Shawn Scott-Fitzgerald and Shamim Jiwa-Kassam started deploying as Red Cross volunteers in 2005 and 2006, respectively. The two first met in 2010, when they left their homes in Haslett, Michigan, and Lititz, Pennsylvania, respectively, to help people affected by flooding in Massachusetts. They’ve been close friends ever since, and in South Carolina, they are working on their tenth Red Cross response together. 

“We think alike,” Jiwa-Kassam said, explaining how the two work so well together in their roles handling staff services and logistics. “We’re support each other all the time,” added Scott-Fitzgerald. “And we laugh a lot, a lot,” they said together, laughing.

With years of experience and more than 80 Red Cross deployments between them, Scott-Fitzgerald and Jiwa-Kassam know a lot about the connections that form during a Red Cross response.

“I’ve made at least one really good friend on every job I’ve been on,” said Scott-Fitzgerald. “Those friendships continue…you see them on the next one, and you pick right up where you left off.”

Reconnecting Families - Reuniting Brandon with his father

Brandon was a child of war. Like so many, his family fled Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. They went to Senegal, where he was born then to the United States when he was 4 years old.

Their destinations: Iowa. Oklahoma. Eventually Columbia, S.C. Along the way, his parents separated and he lived with his father until the father had to return to the Congo. Eventually, at age 22, Brandon graduated from the University of South Carolina. He told a friend he hoped he could reconnect with his father.

Through the Red Cross, Brandon’s father found him in May 2015.

Brandon Lufele Kazadi was contacted by a Red Cross worker who delivered a hand-written note from his father in Africa, dated Jan. 27, 2015. The contact was part of an international service called Reconnecting Families. “He hasn’t forgotten me,” Brandon said.

His father had asked the Red Cross in Africa for help and said he thought his son might have attended Winthrop University in South Carolina. Brandon had talked about wanting to go to Winthrop.

A caseworker called Winthrop and learned that he had been accepted at the school but had not enrolled. Though a Google search the Red Cross found he had been a mayoral intern in Columbia and that he was a political science major at the University of South Carolina.  A search of various clubs on campus showed he was affiliated with the Campus Ministry and an affiliated church

The caseworker contacted the church secretary and said the Red Cross was trying to reach him.  He called immediately, thinking there might have been a problem with a recent blood donation.  The caseworker scheduled a meeting so she could deliver a note.

Brandon last saw his father more than 10 years ago. He had been anxious about his father’s feelings until he received this communication. He hopes to see his father again to “show him the love of God.”

Brandon says he is called to the ministry and is working in a paid internship at the church. He wants to continue service to humanity.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Tips for South Carolina

With Halloween just around the corner, we are soon to be expecting little superheroes, princesses and ghouls dispersing into the streets seeking out the best houses to get candy. This will be a great opportunity for families to bounce back from the floods that affected many residents here in South Carolina and to have a special night with friends and family.     

Many children will be walking around in costumes that usually incorporate dark colors and this can make them hard to see at night.  Here are a few tips and tricks for safer trick-or-treating:
  • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to be seen.
  • Use face makeup instead of mask, which can cover your eyes and impair vision.
  • Use flashlights while walking through neighborhoods.
  • Walk on the sidewalk and not in the street.
  • Plan your route ahead of time.
  • Have an adult accompany younger trick-or-treaters.

If you're expecting to be handing out candy to young visitors, you can easily help make their Halloween safer by:
  • Turning on your porch and other outdoor lights.
  • Clearing your porch and yard of any obstacles or leftover debris, including from the recent floods, that someone could trip over.
  • Restraining your pets.
  • Using glow stick instead of a candle in your jack-o-lanterns to avoid fire hazards.
  • Driving slow and using caution as some young kids are excited and may forget to look both ways if they are crossing a road.

South Carolina will not let the floods interfere with tradition and we hope that everyone is safe and also has a good time with loved ones.  Let’s make this a year to focus and be grateful for the treats and not the tricks!  

Looking for another way to help your family stay safe? Download the free Red Cross First Aid App.  You'll have instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever you need it, all in the palm of your hand. Find the First Aid App and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to   


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mold a Big Issue in Flood Areas

Story and Photo by: Rick Harvey, American Red Cross

South Carolina residents are battling a potential hidden danger as they continue to rebuild their homes following the recent flooding – mold.

“If people can’t see it they might not know they’re being exposed to it,” said American Red Cross Health Services Volunteer Pam Deichmann, a retired public health nurse from Des Moines, Iowa.  “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

The topic of mold, how to manage it, and how to effectively clean areas taken over by mold continues to be a priority as Red Cross caseworkers visit with those affected by the floods.  Residents are provided with information explaining that mold can be found almost anywhere on the interior and exterior of any structure, regardless of when it was built. All it needs is oxygen and moisture to develop and grow.

“If you’re immune-compromised at all, or if you’re young or elderly – those are the ones who are affected the quickest,” Deichmann said.

American Red Cross caseworker Edna Vasser 
shows a Myrtle Beach homeowner signs 
of mold during an outreach visit. 
Deichmann said respiratory issues and burning sensations in the sinus area are the quickest signs you may be sensitive to mold.

“There can be a variety of symptoms,” she said. “Generally, you can just not feel well because your body is trying to react to something it doesn’t quite know what it is. It can decrease your immune system so you can also catch other things.”

The Red Cross continues to remind those who have experienced flooding that mold can be recognized from its black color and from a pungent or musty odor.

“When we talk to those affected we want them to know that if things are wet – insulation, sheet rock, furniture – and it’s been wet for 48 hours or more, then it does have to be removed,” Deichmann said.

The Red Cross offers the following cleaning tips for the removal of mold in areas after permanently removing things that cannot be cleaned easily, such as furniture, wood, carpet and leather:
·         Use bleach to clean mold off hard things (floors, stoves, sinks, certain toys, countertops, flatware, plates, tools)
·         Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners
·         Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles and N-95 mask
·         Open windows and doors to get fresh air when using bleach
·         Mix no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water

·         Wash an item with the bleach and water mixture. If the surface of the item is rough, scrub the surface with a  stuff brush. Rinse the item with clean water.

UPDATED List of Red Cross Resource Centers

Columbia, SC (Tuesday, October 27, 2015) — Volunteers from the American Red Cross and many other community organizations continue to provide comfort and hope in South Carolina, weeks after devastating flooding uprooted lives and destroyed homes across the state.

The Red Cross will be available to help people create personal disaster recovery plans, navigate paperwork and access additional resources at the following multi-agency resource centers:

Williamsburg Recreation Center
2086 Thurgood Marshall Hwy
Kingstree, SC
Tuesday, October 27,10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Mt. Claire Missionary Baptist Church
1009 East Main Street
Lake City, SC 29560
Tuesday, October 27-Wednesday, October 28, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

A diverse network of organizations and services will be available at both locations listed above to support people on the road to recovery.

Anyone in need of Red Cross flood related services and resources that is unable to attend one of the above resource centers should call (855) 773-3175.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Returning Home can be Challenging for Volunteers

Story and Photos by: Rick Harvey, American Red Cross

Being assigned to an American Red Cross Disaster Relief Operation can be a rewarding and life-changing experience.  It can also be a mentally-taxing time that isn’t fully noticed until a volunteer returns home.

That’s why it’s so important for those leaving a deployment to visit with Disaster Mental Health volunteers, who are trained to help prepare those leaving an operation on things to expect when they return home to their family and friends.

“Whether someone has been on one or 101 relief operations, there is what I call ‘re-entry issues’,” said Judy Nicholson, the Disaster Mental Health Chief for the South Carolina flood relief operation. 
“When we return home, it’s important to be gentle and aware of our emotions.”

According to the “Coping with Disaster: For the Families of Disaster Workers” document that can be found on the Exchange, “when disaster workers return home, they are usually tired and may continue to think about the operation.”

Larry Martens, Disaster Mental Health volunteer, talks with
a family affected by the recent flooding at the
Multi-Agency Resource Center in Kingstree, S.C.
“Though they have returned home, they may still feel a need to reassure themselves about the safety of their environment,” the document continues. “Workers often feel unsettled because they feel they couldn’t get everything done at the disaster operation. Disaster experience can also temporarily overshadow everyday events at home and make them seem less important. Therefore at first, you may seem preoccupied and less in touch with what is happening at home … and may need a little time to readjust to life as usual.”

Nicholson, who has been a mental health volunteer with the Red Cross for 22 years, said volunteers being solely focused on the operation while deployed is one of the biggest challenges.

“It may just be a matter of being tired and not realizing the need to catch up on sleep,” Nicholson said. “The reality is we are sort of in a bubble while deployed. Some people have been deployed for a lengthy period of time and they bond with folks who are here and it becomes their family. And then when they return home they may have to deal with some resentment from their family, especially if the person who’s been away missed a birthday, an anniversary or a special moment.”

Even if it’s brief, those deployed should make a point to take a few minutes to discuss their operation experience with a mental health volunteer, Nicholson said.

“It’s so key,” she said. “Talk to our mental health workers and tell them what you’ve done and how it went. We relate to people and want to help them leave with a sense of accomplishment, thinking about the good things they experienced and not with the feeling of just holding on to the bad stuff.”

Red Cross Services Remain Available at Local Resource Centers

Columbia, SC (Monday, October 26, 2015) — Volunteers from the American Red Cross and many other community organizations continue to provide comfort and hope in South Carolina, weeks after devastating flooding uprooted lives and destroyed homes across the state.

On Monday, October 26, the Red Cross will be available to help people create personal disaster recovery plans, navigate paperwork and access additional resources at the following multi-agency resource centers:

First United Methodist Church
1001 5th Avenue
Conway, SC
Open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Williamsburg Recreation Center
2086 Thurgood Marshall Hwy
Kingstree, SC
Will Re-Open Tuesday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Mt. Claire Missionary Baptist Church
1009 East Main Street
Lake City, SC 29560
Opening Tuesday, Oct 27 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

A diverse network of organizations and services are available at each location listed above to support people on the road to recovery. 

For additional information about available Red Cross flood related services and resources, please call (855) 773-3175.

Kids in Disasters Get Help from Red Cross Volunteers

American Red Cross volunteer Eric Oubre of Houston, Texas, gets down on the floor to talk to a youngster staying at a Red Cross shelter after flooding devastated many parts of South Carolina. 
Story and photos by Carl Manning, American Red Cross

A toddler who survived the South Carolina
flooding finds a moment of happiness
playing with a therapy dog at a multi-
agency resource center.
The little girl was so young she could barely walk. But when she saw Kodi the therapy dog, she immediately reached out to pet it. For her it was really a happy moment as she smiled and laughed.

Like many children in South Carolina, the toddler survived the South Carolina flooding and was with her grandmother seeking assistance from the American Red Cross. While she realized her life may have changed, like children her age she may not fully understand what happened.

For youngsters teetering on the edge of trauma, there are Red Cross volunteers trained to help in such cases. Help that could come from a simply gesture like volunteer sitting on the floor of a Red Cross shelter to show a kid how to play a video game so he can think about something other than he’s not  at home because he no longer has a home.

Red Cross volunteer Bill Martin, a clinical psychologist from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, helps people cope with disasters. He said the younger the child, the harder it is for them to clearly verbalize their feelings.

“Parents, as quickly as they can, need to get back to their normal routines as much as possible,” Bill said. “While not all of the children may be displaced, their routines have been blown. They don’t know what to do. They’re in a vacuum.”

Children might need to be more dependent, so parents giving more hugs, letting a child keep the light on at night or not sleep alone or accepting more clinging behavior is acceptable, he said. Some children may become withdrawn and unable to talk about what happened, while others may feel intensely sad and angry at times and could act as though nothing happened.

“Children’s moods in a disaster can change quickly, like being on a roller coaster,” Bill said. “These feelings can be intense but they don’t last long.”

Lorie Evans and her family were forced out their home and have been staying with relatives in a crowded three-bedroom house, something she finds trying. Her 12-year-old son, Damyen, quietly plays a computer game before declaring, “I’m ready to go home. It’s been hard on me sometimes.”

Red Cross volunteer Steve Smith
of Liberty, Missouri talks to children
displaced by the South Carolina
floods while their parents are
getting assistance at a multi-
agency resource center. 
Steve Smith from Liberty, Missouri, is a member of the Red Cross spiritual care team. At a multi-agency resource center, he talked to a young girl holding a stuffed toy.

“Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. They feed off the attitudes of their parents. The more freaking out the parents do, the more the kids do,” he said.

Steve’s style to talk, joke and try to make the children feel comfortable while their parents are getting assistance from the Red Cross and other agencies.

“Sometimes people need a short cartoon to give them a little diversion from what they’ve been going through,” Steve said. “If I’m able to give them a few minutes diversion from what they’ve been through, then I feel I’ve done some good.”

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Businesses Step Up for SC Flood Response

From providing much-needed financial support to lending the volunteer manpower of their employees, businesses large and small have stepped up to help the American Red Cross respond to devastating flooding across South Carolina.

Story and photo by Rick Harvey, American Red Cross

Cindy Pannell, Executive Vice-President of
Southeast Restaurant Corporation, looks
through a clean-up kit while touring
the warehouse at the Red Cross Emergency
Operations Center in Myrtle Beach, SC.
As flood waters rose across the state earlier this month, a South Carolina Pizza Hut franchisee quickly decided to give back to her community and support American Red Cross relief efforts.

Cindy Pannell, executive vice-president of Southeast Restaurant Corporation -- a franchisee of 49 Pizza Hut locations across the Palmetto State -- said her stores had just begun to take part in an international fundraising campaign when the flooding began.

Members of Pannell's team came to her asking if they could temporarily shift the fundraising focus in their stores in light of the devastation around them. Pannell agreed that immediate fundraising efforts should be transitioned to helping those affected by the flooding, in partnership with the Red Cross.

“It was the right thing to do,” Pannell said. Since October 9, cash donations for flood relief have been accepted at all 49 Pizza Hut locations.

This fundraising effort is one of many that Southeast Restaurant Corporation conducts for the Red Cross each year. “We love our partnership with the Red Cross,” Pannell said, explaining how her relationship with the organization started after she first witnessed Red Cross volunteers in action, responding to a fire next door to one of her Pizza Hut stores.

In addition to helping the Red Cross raise funds for its response to the South Carolina floods, Pannell has visited the organization's Emergency Operations Center in Myrtle Beach to learn the ins and outs of this multi-faceted relief operation.

“I’m just in awe of what the Red Cross does,” Pannell said.

Red Cross volunteer Greg Clover stands amidst some of the
1 million bottles of water in the Red  Cross warehouse he
manages in South Carolina. Clover is an employee of Home
Depot which provides unlimited leave to employees on
Red Cross deployment.
Story and photo by Don Underwood, American Red Cross

It takes a combination of Red Cross volunteers and generous corporate partners like Home Depot to bring help and hope to survivors of disasters like the historic South Carolina flooding.

“Out of sheer will power, we make things work at a disaster,” said Greg Clover, a Red Cross volunteer from La Jolla, California.

Being able to respond to a Red Cross request for his services as a warehouse manager is made easier because he works for Home Depot, a long-time Red Cross partner. The Home Depot Foundation helps ensure Red Cross can respond immediately by donating $500,000 annually to the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program.

When he needs to leave, Home Depot gives Greg unlimited, unpaid leave from his job at the Home Depot store where he works in the building materials section. He said it’s the same policy Home Depot has for its employees called to active military duty.

“They understand it's good work to deploy with the Red Cross to relieve suffering and meet the needs of a community,” he said. “They’re happy I’m out here.”

During his time in South Carolina, representatives from Home Depot and other corporate partners were brought in to the warehouse Greg was managing to see its operations.

“I was really proud to have our partners come here because what they do for the Red Cross is so important,” he said. “All of these things you see in [the warehouse] didn’t just show up out of the blue…these partners made it possible with their support.”

Financial donations to the American Red Cross are being used to provide help to people in need right now and will enable us to continue providing help as communities recover. The Red Cross depends on the continued support of the public to help people affected by disasters big and small. Donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, 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. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

FDNY Heeds the Call in South Carolina

FDNY DART team members assess flood damage outside a home on Jackson Bluff Road in Conway, South Carolina, where the roadway was still partially flooded weeks after the storm.
Story and photos by Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross

“Tell us what you need, we’ll get it done.”

Doug Bainton and the other members of the New York City Fire Department’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) have been getting it done as Red Cross partners for 25 years. Currently, 13 active duty and retired FDNY members are in South Carolina, where they’ve been providing relief and comfort to people after this month’s historic flooding since they arrived on October 12.

“This is kind of what we do,” Bainton says. “We help people for a living. This is just another way of doing it.”

This unique partnership began during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, when the Red Cross made a request for Spanish-speaking volunteers. Some FDNY members were able to help, and a year and a half later, they formed a response team made up entirely of firemen. Over the past 25 years, Bainton says the DART team has helped the Red Cross respond to disasters in every state in the union.

“It’s a way to give back,” Bainton said. “9/11 was obviously a big deal for us, something that will never go away. Half the world has already forgotten what happened here in South Carolina. We understand what that’s like.”

"Even some locals don't know that there's still houses underwater," said FDNY Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) member Doug Bainton. The DART team recently brought Red Cross relief supplies to Jackson Bluff Road and the Lee's Landing neighborhood of Conway, South Carolina, where roads had only just became accessible three weeks after the state was hit by historic flooding. Red Cross disaster assessment and casework teams are now making their way into the neighborhood to help people begin their recovery process.

The DART team members--who donate their FDNY vacation time to deploy to these disaster sites--have done everything from driving Emergency Response Vehicles to running warehouses during their 25 years as Red Cross response partners. This week, the DART team did disaster assessment and brought clean-up supplies to residents in Lee’s Landing and other Conway, S.C. neighborhoods that remain so water-logged, one of the team’s vehicles became temporarily stuck in the mud.

“We’re often the first agencies to bring help to these people. That’s important,” Bainton said of the DART team and the Red Cross. “We get a lot of hugs. Grown men will sometimes start crying, and then you start crying. All they need is that minute, and then they’re fine. And they’re so grateful someone is helping them. That’s why we come back.”

FDNY DART team members leave Red Cross relief supplies outside a home in the Lee’s Landing neighborhood of Conway, South Carolina, where yards remain underwater weeks after flood waters reached their highest points.

Red Cross Services Available at Multi Agency Resource Centers


Volunteers from the American Red Cross and many other community organizations continue to provide comfort and hope in South Carolina, weeks after devastating flooding uprooted lives and destroyed homes across the state.

On Saturday, October 24, the Red Cross will be available to help people create personal disaster recovery plans, navigate paperwork and access additional resources at the following multi-agency resource centers:

Temple of Faith Bible Way Church
2850 Congaree Road, Gadsden, SC
Open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

First United Methodist Church
1001 5th Avenue, Conway, SC
Open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Georgetown First Baptist Church
219 Cleland Street, Georgetown, SC 
Open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Williamsburg Recreation Center
2086 Thurgood Marshall Hwy, Kingstree, SC 
Open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

A diverse network of organizations and services are available at each location listed above to support people on the road to recovery.

Red Cross representatives will also be present on Saturday at the following FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers:

White Chapel Holiness Church
419 S. Midway Drive, Johnsonville, SC
Open 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

North Strand Recreation Center
120 Highway 57 South, Little River, SC
Open 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

For additional information about available Red Cross flood related services and resources, please call (855) 773-3175.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Partners Come Together to Support Flood Recovery

Several weeks have passed since devastating flooding first struck the state of South Carolina. Recovering from a disaster of this magnitude takes time, and volunteers from the American Red Cross and many community partners have come together to ensure that people continue to get the help they need.

The Red Cross is working closely with emergency officials, community organizations and local residents to make sure we’re providing the right resources and support to the people of South Carolina. As everyone works to get back on their feet, we bring you a few snapshots from the road to recovery.

By Kimmy Venter, American Red Cross

Shirley Green of Hopkins, SC
speaks with nurse Debi O’Neil
about her medical needs
following the recent floods.
Flood waters caused minor damage at Shirley Green’s home in Hopkins, South Carolina. She’s cleaned up most of the mess, but a long road to recovery still lies ahead.

“I’m a diabetic,” she explained. “Thankfully the nurse here is helping me replace my insulin – I have to have that.”

Shirley was able to meet with a Red Cross nurse at one of several multi-agency resource centers (or MARCs) set up across the state. At a MARC, people can access services from a diverse network of government and non-profit partners working to help people recover from a disaster.

For Shirley, the care and concern of nurse Debi O’Neil brought some comfort in the midst of a difficult experience. Besides helping her replace her prescription medication, Debi took some extra time to check out an injury Shirley had sustained while cleaning up after the floods.

“I’m just very grateful,” Shirley said. “I know I’ll be okay.”

By Rick Harvey, American Red Cross

Red Cross volunteer Randy Liang loads
a case of bottled water into the back seat
of a Kingstree resident’s vehicle at a
local multi-agency resource center.
Randy Liang is on just his second national deployment as a Red Cross volunteer, but it didn’t take him long to figure out the importance of adapting as needed. 

Liang, from Akron, Ohio, was sent to South Carolina as a Disaster Services Technology volunteer. But at a MARC in Kingstree, South Carolina, Liang was doing much more than dealing with cables, phone lines and computers. 

Sweat beads covered his forehead as he helped carry relief supplies and cases of bottled water to the vehicles of area residents affected by the recent flooding. 

“Most of my work on the relief operations I’ve been on has been in headquarters,” Liang explained of his usual role in IT. “Before being sent here to Kingstree, I had never seen what goes on outside."

Liang was more than willing to step in and help when the need arose. And he did it with a constant smile. “Whatever I can help with, I’ll be happy to do it," he said. “The most impressive thing of all is seeing a bunch of people coming together and doing what's needed to get the job done. That’s impressive.”

By Kimmy Venter, American Red Cross

Hopkins resident Willie Cannon meets
with a Red Cross caseworker at a multi-
agency resource center in Gadsden, SC.
Willie Cannon stepped into a MARC in Gadsden, South Carolina nearly two weeks after flooding caused serious damage to his Hopkins home.

“The water started seeping under the back door, and it flooded the whole place. There was water up to here,” he said, motioning to the middle of his calf. “Everything was floating.”

At the MARC, Willie met one-on-one with a Red Cross caseworker who helped him create a personalized recovery plan, and offered suggestions for how he could access assistance from other agencies.

For now, Willie’s friend Sharon Ladson is providing him with a safe place to stay until his home is repaired. Though her home was not damaged by the flood, the disaster has taken its toll on her, too.

“It’s stressful,” she explained. “It’s rearranged my life. It’s hard to get back on track, but we appreciate everything that everybody is doing to help.”

By Rick Harvey, American Red Cross

Volunteers from Disaster Relief USA
serve a hot meal of smoked pork butt to
volunteers and local residents at a multi-
agency resource center in Kingstree, SC.
When people arrived at the MARC in Kingstree, South Carolina this week, in addition to picking up relief supplies and developing their recovery plans, they were also being served a nice, hot meal.

10 volunteers from Disaster Relief USA (DRUSA), a ministry of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, were staffing a mobile kitchen parked right outside the MARC. From there, they cooked and served two meals a day for people affected by the flooding, and for volunteers from all of the relief organizations working on-site. 

“If the Red Cross needs us then naturally we get volunteers together and we roll,” said Harvey Owens, a DRUSA volunteer from Kinston, North Carolina. 

On a Wednesday afternoon, nearly 50 people were lined up in Kingstree for meals of smoked pork butt, mashed potatoes, green beans and iced tea. Many were able to take home hot food for their entire families.

“This has really worked out well," Owens said of the setup at the MARC. "The Red Cross is happy we’re here, and we’re happy they’re here.” 

Financial donations to the American Red Cross are being used to provide help to people in need right now and will enable us to continue providing help as communities recover. The Red Cross depends on the continued support of the public to help people affected by disasters big and small. Donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, 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. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

UPS Problem Solver Puts Expertise to Work for Red Cross

By Kimmy Venter, American Red Cross

Dale Herzog’s career with UPS started 38 years ago, when he was still in high school. 

“It’s been an awesome run,” he said, and it’s clear that he means it.

In his role as a loaned logistics manager to The UPS Foundation, Herzog has traveled across the country and around the world helping organizations like the American Red Cross maximize their efficiency. Drawing on his expertise as an industrial engineer, the New Orleans resident brings a unique operational mentality to making the world a better place.

“People have big hearts, and they want to do the right thing,” he said. “I get to work with them to figure out how to do the right thing, and how to do it most effectively.”

As part of UPS’s Logistics Action Team program with local Red Cross chapters, Herzog was deployed to support relief operations as a Red Cross volunteer when South Carolina was hit by massive flooding. He went to work immediately, helping to assess damage in the flood-affected neighborhoods of the Columbia area and delivering essential supplies to people in need.

“I’m getting the chance to see how a disaster response unfolds in real time,” he said during a short break from distributing relief items in Columbia. “It’s helpful to understand what happens in a situation like this, to be able to put my knowledge and expertise in perspective.”

As his time in South Carolina drew to a close, Herzog looked forward to continued collaboration between the UPS Foundation and the Red Cross.

“Our relationship is very strong and it’s only getting stronger. The Red Cross has a great mission, and they do a great job. The biggest thing that UPS can do is help them drive efficiency, and I’m anxious to use my volunteer experience to make that happen,” he said.

For decades, UPS has partnered with the Red Cross to improve the safety and well-being of local communities through financial, logistical and volunteer support.

UPS is a $1 million dollar member of the Annual Disaster Giving Program, and is committed to serving the Red Cross through financial and logistical support that enhances preparedness and response efforts. In addition, UPS supports the Red Cross Home Fire Prevention program and UPS Logistics Action Teams provide support to help speed vital relief supplies to communities in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MARCs Helping Families Begin Road to Recovery

By Rick Harvey, American Red Cross

A trail of water followed Jeff Tatro every step he made during a visit to the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), which opened Tuesday at First United Methodist Church in Conway, S.C.

With wet, sloshing shoes and soggy pants up to his knees, Tatro, his wife, Heidi, and sons Lucas, 15, and Cyrus, 13, made the short trip from the flooded Savannah Bluffs neighborhood in Conway to meet with American Red Cross caseworkers, get cleaning supplies, and receive referrals for other area agencies.

“The Red Cross has been great,” Tatro said.

The MARC in Conway is one of five “one-stop shops” across the Palmetto State for residents affected by flooding. The Red Cross has caseworkers, health services and disaster assessment personnel at each site ready to help residents one-on-one as they begin the steps to long-term recovery.

“We’re lucky,” Tatro said.  “Some people lost everything. We lost things, but not like some.”

The family had only been residing in their home for three weeks when the torrential rains began, Tatro said. His wife and sons fled to a Myrtle Beach motel ahead of the storm, but Tatro has remained in the soggy, moldy conditions of his home to help fend off any potential looters.

“We were warned,” Tatro said. “They said it was going to get serious, but I was like ‘yeah, right’. The first night I moved my truck to higher ground and the next morning it was too deep to drive. The water went up two feet the first night.”

Tatro said high waters first seeped inside October 4, quickly saturating carpets.

“The carpets, couches and beds are ruined and mold is creeping up,” he said. “And our son, Lucas, has asthma.”

Flood waters, which reached approximately five feet at its peak, have gone down substantially, although Tatro says it’s still too deep to drive in his drive-way. He’s been in constant contact with his landlord and will use the assistance and recovery tools his family got from the Red Cross to help the process of returning things to normal as soon as possible.

But until then – and until the final two feet of high water totally recedes - he’ll continue to slosh his way down his drive-way inside his home, leaving the trail of small puddles along the way.

“Our mobile home is up on blocks,” he said. “It’s up high, which is good, but we learned it’s not high enough.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Red Cross VolunTEENs Lend Support to SC Flood Victims

By Kimmy Venter, American Red Cross

As people in South Carolina continue to clean up after devastating flooding, community partners are joining forces to help families begin to recover. At several Multi Agency Resource Centers – or MARCs – now open across the state, volunteers from organizations including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Save the Children, South Carolina Legal Services and the NAACP are working together to offer a wide array of information and assistance to those in need.

Recently, a new MARC was opened at Dutch Square shopping center in Columbia. As local residents checked in to this “one stop shop” for flood relief, they were greeted by members of the Red Cross “VolunTEENs,” a group of nearly 30 young people with family ties to Fort Jackson. These teens – all children of active or retired Army personnel – “provide Red Cross services to the local community and the young people of Fort Jackson,” according to the VolunTEENs’ constitution.

The Red Cross VolunTEENs of Fort Jackson hold monthly meetings to review and plan local service acitivities throughout the year. Youth Chair Mary Reardon, whose daughter is an active VolunTEEN, willingly supports their efforts, but stresses the importance of letting young people lead the way. “This program is all about growing future leaders,” she says. “The teens coordinate their own meetings, perform many hours of community service, and keep the program strong by raising funds and welcoming new members on a regular basis.”

At their October meeting, the VolunTEENs agreed to postpone their regularly scheduled activities and focus instead on helping people affected by the recent floods. Despite having lived in South Carolina for a short time in most cases – only as long as their parents have been stationed at Fort Jackson – the teens have developed strong ties to the community by volunteering with the Red Cross. When disaster struck, they were eager to help.

In preparation for the opening of the MARC in Columbia, the VolunTEENs spent a day distributing fliers in flood-affected neighborhoods to let people know how to get assistance. The next day, they were the friendly faces welcoming those people to the MARC and helping them take the first steps toward recovery. In this way, and many others, the VolunTEENs of Fort Jackson are, indeed, developing as future leaders. Through their actions, they embody the care and compassion that define the American Red Cross.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Red Cross Provides Disaster Health Services in South Carolina

By Robert W. Wallace, American Red Cross

The American Red Cross maintains a roster of health services specialists who are licensed as physicians, nurses, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. When disaster strikes, these highly trained specialists deploy to provide health services to disaster victims as well as Red Cross volunteers involved in disaster response and recovery.

One of the critical things for health services is to provide and advocate for items in Red Cross shelters that are necessary to deal with resident’s functional needs, things like walkers, wheelchairs, and specialized medical equipment, according to John Decker, a Disaster Health Services Manager, currently deployed to Charleston, South Carolina.

Red Cross Disaster Health Services can also assist with replacing lost medications, help with negotiations with insurance companies and pharmacies, check vital signs in the field, provide referrals to local health specialists, and provide immunizations.

“One of the things we are finding very prevalent in our response to the South Carolina floods are broken front teeth,” said Decker. “Apparently, people fell and hit their teeth when being rescued by boat. We are doing a lot of referrals to local dentists and have been active in negotiating prices for dental care.”

American Red Cross Disaster Health Services volunteer Bill Roach checks the conditions Linda Yates’ feet as she sits amid the ruined furniture and construction materials from her home that are now piled out on the street.

Dawnda Smith, a Red Cross Disaster Health Services specialist, gives a comforting touch to flood victim Linda Yates. Sitting outside, amid the flood damaged furniture and construction debris from her home, Linda shared how she had lost everything in the flood. “I had renter’s insurance, but they turned me down, because I didn’t have flood insurance…In the past I could always count on help from my mom, but I recently lost her too,” said a tearful Linda.

Red Cross Disaster Health Specialists Bill Roach and Dawnda Smith check vital signs for flood victim Linda Yates. Linda’s home suffered heavy damage when it was inundated by the historic flood waters in the Charleston, South Carolina area. 

Jason Trinklein: Compelled to Serve as a Red Cross Volunteer in a City He Loves

By Robert W. Wallace, American Red Cross

When Jason Trinklein learned of the historic flooding in Charleston, South Carolina, he felt an overwhelming urge to provide assistance to people whose homes were heavily damaged or destroyed by the historic floodwaters. The Red Cross immediately came to mind, so he made a phone call. “Can you be here tomorrow morning for training,” asked the Red Crosser on the Charleston end of that call.

Jason could not get from Long Island, where he is temporarily living with his parents, to Charleston by the next morning. But he packed a bag, jumped in his car, and headed south as quickly as he could. When he arrived, the person at the front desk of the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center thanked him for his interest but said they already had sufficient event-based volunteers. Red Cross volunteers go through background checks and have extensive training for their particular jobs. Event-based volunteers, those who come forward at the time of a specific event and have not gone through training, are sometimes utilized, but sparingly.

Jason did not give up. “I drove all the way from Long Island,” he explained, and after a little persistence on his part, Jason was told that they would see if they could find a place for him to help. It turns out that he has been of immense help. “Jason is a [computer] networking genius,” says Paula Forrest who is in charge of technology at the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center in Charleston.

Like all other aspects of modern-day life, Red Cross disaster response is heavily dependent upon access to computer networks, but getting computer and communications technology in place during a disaster can be a major challenge, especially when normal communications channels are not operational. In those cases the Red Cross relies on mobile satellite antennas for its communication needs. It turns out that Jason had worked for a number of companies in the Charleston area as a computer and networking specialist. He has been of immense assistance in keeping the Red Cross technology systems operational.

Jason’s experience living in Charleston was the major reason he felt such an urgency to help with the disaster response. He attended the College of Charleston for his undergraduate studies, and he loved the city so much he stayed for several years before finally leaving to pursue a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering. “I love the pace of life in Charleston,” said Jason. “It has such a strong sense of community….[when the flood happened,] I just felt compelled to come back and help out.”

Jason is now an official Red Cross volunteer, having completed the initial requirements during his brief stay here. He is currently looking for a job and pursuing the use of the teaching credentials he obtained while at the College of Charleston, despite his initial interest in Biomedical Engineering. “I find I really like working with children,” he shared. Wherever Jason ends up, he says that he plans to look up the local chapter of the Red Cross and continue as a volunteer.

Jason’s story highlights the importance of being trained as a Red Cross volunteer before a disaster strikes in your neighborhood. If you think you might feel compelled, just as Jason was, to help with a disaster response, go to and click on the “Ways to Help” button at the top of the page. Then click on “Ways to Volunteer” on the left-hand side of the next page to discover how you can become a Red Cross Volunteer and be ready to assist your community, or others, in times of need. 

Carolina Volunteer Turns Heartbreak into Hope

By Kimmy Venter, American Red Cross

Jennifer Briggs has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2005. When it comes to disaster responses, it would seem she’s done it all. “I do feeding, I do sheltering, I do client casework, I’ve done damage assessment – I’m versed in most areas of the Red Cross,” she explains.

But here in Columbia, South Carolina, Jennifer is dealing with something she’s never experienced before. She’s helping the Red Cross respond to a disaster that destroyed her own home.

Prior to the recent floods, Jennifer was living in a trailer along the waterfront in Oriental, NC. Now, she describes her home and most of her belongings as unsalvageable – inundated by over 14 inches of water. She relocated to Lexington, SC this week to be close to her family, and instead of dwelling on what she’s lost, Jennifer has jumped right in to help others in need.

“I moved here Monday and I came to work for the Red Cross on Tuesday.” Jennifer has been busy ever since, getting supplies such as water, snacks, clean-up kits and toiletries in and out of the Red Cross warehouse in Columbia. Warehouse manager Greg Clover is thrilled to have the help. “[Jennifer] fits in so well, and she is a very hard worker,” he says. With her support, the warehouse is helping to get thousands of relief items into the hands of people who need them.

For Jennifer, volunteering is a way to cope with what she’s been through. “It’s easier for me to get out here and do something,” she says. “I’m just here to help everybody else.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the continued support of the public to help people affected by disasters big and small. People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting, 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.

Red Cross Services Available at FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers

As people in South Carolina continue to clean up after the recent floods, American Red Cross caseworkers are meeting one-on-one with those affected to help them create their recovery plans, navigate paperwork and access additional resources. In Horry County, the Red Cross is offering these case management services at two separate sites, each co-located with a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center:


North Strand Recreation Center

120 Highway 57 South

Little River, SC 29566


South Strand Recreation Center

9650 Scipio Lane

Myrtle Beach, SC 29908


Both sites are open seven days a week, from 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. each day. For additional information about available Red Cross services and resources, please call (855) 773-3175.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Chili’s Partners Up with the American Red Cross

Sixty-four Chili’s restaurants are scheduled to help families affected by the recent floods in the region, by donating 10 percent of their sales to the American Red Cross on Tuesday, Oct. 20. 2015.

The initiative, known as “Chili’s Gives Back”, is scheduled to take place at franchises operating in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The event is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 15. The final donation amount would exclude alcohol sales, taxes and tip.

“It’s always great to see local businesses doing their part in helping out families affected by disasters,” said Barry Porter, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross. “Their support only helps further the American Red Cross’ mission.”

Donation from sales will enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help recover from disasters.

People can download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of hurricanes and flooding, as well as locations of shelters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to Parents can also download the Red Cross Monster Guard App for a fun way to teach children what to do in case of a flood or a hurricane.