Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Red Cross Offers 10 Tips to Keep Trick or Treaters Safe This Halloween

Be sure to stay safe this Halloween
by using the 10 Red Cross tips below! 

In just one day, little witches, ghosts, pirates and super heroes will take to the streets for trick or treat fun, and the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross has tips to help everyone stay safe while enjoying Halloween.

Here are the top ways for parents to keep the kids safe while getting ready for Trick or Treat.

·         Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen.
o    Use face makeup instead of masks. Masks can make it hard to see.
o    Give kids a flashlight to light their way.
o    Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
o    Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.
  • Use flame-resistant costumes.
  • Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance – make sure adults know where their children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door in neighborhoods.
  • It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
  • Walk, don’t run.
  • Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street.
o    If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
o    Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
o    Don’t cut across yards or use alleys.
o    Don’t cross between parked cars.
o    Use extra caution if driving. The youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.
·         Make sure a grown-up checks the goodies before eating.
    • Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards.
    • Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.

And finally, for those planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to their homes, follow these safety steps:
·         Light the area well so young visitors can see.
·         Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice in case your ghost, goblin or super hero has a mishap. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Palmetto SC Red Cross Volunteers Deploy to Florida, Georgia

As residents in Florida and Georgia just begin to recover after Hurricane Michael, the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross is stepping in to help.

Shelter residents talk with a Red Cross volunteer
in the days after Hurricane Michael.
 As of Monday morning, 18 volunteers from South Carolina are heading to Florida or Georgia. The volunteers are deploying to help with various aspects of the Red Cross response. Some will be assisting with the sheltering effort, some will be working to coordinate the movement of needed supplies and others will be providing emotional support to those impacted by the historic storm. 

Six volunteers will be leaving from the Lowcountry chapter; four will be leaving from the Central chapter; four will be leaving from the Upstate chapter; four will be leaving from the Eastern chapter.

“When I see the images of the devastation from Hurricane Michael, my heart breaks for everyone impacted,” said Louise Welch Williams. “When Hurricane Florence impacted us, we received such generous, nationwide support from volunteers. While we are still helping people recover from Florence, our neighbors in Florida and Georgia need that same support.”

A Red Cross worker entertains 15-month-old
Cavaughn Trusty.
Over the weekend, more than 2,000 people stayed in as many as 27 Red Cross and community shelters across Florida, Georgia and Alabama. More than 1,000 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground to support relief efforts. The Red Cross has already severed 125,500 meals and snacks. The organization has pre-positioned enough shelter supplies to support some 15,000 people.

Monday, October 8, 2018

From Resident to Red Cross Volunteer: A Conway Resident Gives Back

Story by: Barbara Weber, American Red Cross Volunteer

When Karin Krauss moved to Conway, South Carolina three years ago she had no idea she would one day be in the midst of a major American Red Cross disaster relief effort right in her home town.

After Krauss moved to Conway, she became friends with her neighbor, Karen Williams. Williams and her husband have been volunteering with the Red Cross for several years. They told Krauss how much they enjoyed the adventures they had traveling around the country providing food, supplies and comfort to people in dire circumstances due to disasters.

Karin Krauss, event-based volunteer, helps
unload meals from an emergency response vehicle.
So when Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas, dumping over 10 trillion gallons of rain and flooding the town of Conway, Krauss decided it was time to get involved. She was inspired to join the Red Cross efforts in helping the local residents impacted by the devastating flooding, just as volunteers from across the country arrived to help.

“I thought of a lot of people and how lucky we were at the other end of Conway that we didn’t get any of the flooding. I wanted to really see how I could go help out some of these people who didn’t have what they needed,” said Krauss.

Turns out, her help was needed, too. Williams told Krauss that the Red Cross was inviting volunteers to join the team, so she signed up to become an event-based volunteer. To date, more than 450 Red Cross disaster workers from all over the country have been in South Carolina helping shelter, feed and comfort people affected.

“When it really struck close to home I thought this is the time for me to really jump into this, so it just made sense,” said Krauss.

Krauss hands out a free, hot meal to a resident in need
after Hurricane Florence. 
Krauss hit the ground running by supporting the Red Cross mobile feeding efforts in Horry County. She tirelessly loaded supplies on and off Emergency Response Vehicles, working with Williams and her husband to deliver hot meals, snacks and water to fire stations, community centers, and neighborhoods where people had been unable to get out for days due to the extreme flooding. So far the Red Cross and its partners have served nearly 200,000 meals and snacks in South Carolina.

“Karen and her husband are wonderful helpful people, and to be part of this with them has been a real joy,” said Krauss.

Krauss is now an official Red Cross volunteer and is planning on moving forward playing an active role as a local volunteer. She said she didn’t realize all that the Red Cross does in addition to the major disaster relief efforts and is excited to learn more about the different services the Red Cross offers.

If you are interested in helping others by volunteering with the Red Cross please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer to find out more and to sign up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

From Maria to Florence: "Please take us to the Red Cross"

Story by: Kate Walters, Cindy Huge and Andrea Carlson, American Red Cross

“When the guys from the National Guard came in a boat to rescue us, the first thing I wanted to know was the location of the nearest Red Cross shelter,” said Jose Perez.

Rosaura Rosaria, Jose’s wife, laughs nervously when she says hurricanes seem to follow them.

Kate, a Red Cross volunteer, helps translate
for the Perez family.
They were in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria devastated the village where Rosaria grew up. Their children were only one and seven then. When their home was destroyed, Rosaria and Perez took the girls to stay with her mother in a small village in the Rio Yunque National Forest. The Red Cross was there providing meals for the people of the small village after power to the island was cut off.

After surviving Hurricane Maria, Rosaria and her husband had been working hard to provide a stable life for their family after the destruction. Disappointed with the pace of recovery and reconstruction on the Caribbean island, they joined the almost 200,000 other Puerto Ricans who have chosen to immigrate stateside, making the big move away from their extended families and coming to South Carolina in search of a more comfortable environment.  

The family arrived on August 15, 2018 just in time for Rose to settle in as a 3rd grader at Daisy Elementary School in Horry County. An educator herself, Rosaria proudly carried a copy of her college transcripts and teaching certificate and checked in with the local school district in search of a teaching position utilizing her strong Spanish skills. Perez secured work on a landscaping team.  The family’s “new normal” was beginning to take shape when Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, September 14th, shaking up their lives once again.

The family evacuated inland and spent six nights in a hotel as the hurricane blew through. That stay depleted their resources. The family had no choice but to return home, knowing that the rising river levels would undoubtedly crest and flood their home.

The Perez family smiles outside of a shelter
alongside Red Cross volunteers.
In the middle of the night, that fear became reality.

The family couldn’t escape. They desperately awaited the National Guard, which arrived by boat and carried the family to safety. Eight days after Florence made landfall, the family once again found shelter with the Red Cross.

In the darkness, Perez remembered that Red Cross volunteers had set up shelters and distributed food and other supplies in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He asked the men in the boat if there was a Red Cross shelter nearby where he could take his family. The National Guard immediately transported them to the Red Cross shelter at Loris Elementary School in Loris where Rosaria and Jose, their two daughters and a cousin were welcomed by volunteers.

“We were worried about staying in a shelter with the girls. It turns out that they really love it here. People bring them gifts and play with them all day. Things are actually stable here. They like the schedule,” said Rosaria.

Juliette, the youngest daughter is full of life. Her infectious smile is irresistible. Her bounding energy lights up the shelter and its residents.

She was forced to part with her favorite stuffed animal, Paca the horse, when they fled their home. At the shelter, she was given a new “Paca the horse” and has been content ever since. Paca has become the shelter mascot.

Juliette smiles with the new Paca, the horse.
“Since they arrived, this family has brought joy and vitality into our place of refuge. They’ve done much more for us than we could ever do for them,” Cindy Owsley, a Red Cross volunteer beamed.

Despite this young family having to rebuild now twice from natural disasters, they continue to make the best of each situation they are dealt. Knowing they have the Red Cross to lean on and get support from, helps make these situations a little easier. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Red Cross Clean-Up Kits Help Ease the Recovery Process

Story by: Cindy Huge, Kate Walters and Cuthbert Langley, American Red Cross 

Brian Lodge isn’t changing anything.

“I’ll take the good with the bad,” he says throughout a drawn-out sigh.

Brian Lodge shows the water line on his Mullins home.
Lodge’s home sits next to the Little Pee Dee River in Mullins.  He knew the river could flood. He knew water could eventually end up inside his home. Over these last few weeks, both of those things happened. In fact, the water line reached over his head.

The rains from Hurricane Florence caused the river to swell over its banks and into Lodge’s home. Now that the river has returned to a somewhat tranquil pace, Lodge has come back home to begin cleaning up, with help from the American Red Cross.

For several days, the Red Cross has been distributing clean-up kits throughout Lodge’s neighborhood and other impacted areas. So far, nearly 3,000 of those clean-up kits have been distributed to people, like Lodge, who need them.

Amidst debris, Lodge begins his recovery with help
from a Red Cross clean-up kit.
With his bucket of supplies in hand, Lodge starts looking through to see what’s inside. Sifting through, he finds a foldable broom, gloves, cleaning supplies; the forlorn look on his face was quickly replaced with a delighted smile when he found a stiff brush. He had been searching local stores for one, but they were sold-out. He also found a mask to protect him from debris and any mold that could be growing.

“You never understand the strength of groups like the Red Cross until you go through something like this,” he said.

Hurricane Florence affected many people in Lodge’s community. He is the band director at a local high school that became a Red Cross shelter. In fact, Lodge said many of his students were there, too.

Lodge puts together a foldable broom
he received from a clean-up kit.
“I’m sure many of my students and their families have been deeply affected by Hurricane Florence,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing them next week.”

He will see them next week as normalcy continues to slowly return to Mullins. Schools will begin to reopen. But, the work is just beginning.

“Sometimes I just want to sit down, but I must keep on working,” Lodge said.

The Red Cross will continue to be there, helping to bring a renewed sense of normalcy to South Carolina.  The organization continues to stay in close contact with local emergency management to meet any needs that arise in the communities Florence hit.