“Life Changing” Work in Nepal

July 25, 2015

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by Niki McMillan

by Anne Reynolds                                                                                                                                                                                Anne was deployed as part of a joint American Red Cross/Danish Emergency Relief Unit to help support distribution of cash and relief items following the earthquake in Nepal.

Nepal has always been a place that I wanted to visit, but until now I had never made the trip. Like most Red Crossers, when I saw the devastation following the earthquakes, I felt the strong desire to help. Thankfully, I have the great privilege to make that desire reality as an American Red Cross International Disaster Services Roster Member.

I deployed to Nepal on June 21, and after a few days in Kathmandu, I headed out to the Makwanpur District. Makwanpur is located just 1.5 hours from the border with India, and encompasses very diverse topography. The area ranges in altitude from just over 500 feet above sea level to over 8,000 feet above sea level. There are a number of rivers running through the district and the roads in and around the area can be quite treacherous. Inevitably there is always a section of the winding, narrow, switch-back road that has experienced at least a small landslide. The blind curves cause the drivers to honk constantly, and we are always on alert. No Sunday driving here!

The district headquarters, Hetauda, is a small but bustling city, and I have been working primarily from the Nepal Red Cross Chapter headquarters here. The local Red Cross staff is simply amazing! Our goal is to reach 2,000 households with full NFRI kits, cash and hygiene kits. In the 15 days I have been here, we have managed to meet with the local government officials for all the areas where distributions will occur, coordinate and agree on beneficiary lists, conduct a 10 percent audit to ensure we are reaching the most impacted areas, secure distribution sites, conduct distribution training for 25 local staff, and successfully complete two distributions in which 380 beneficiaries were served. Beneficiaries have been so happy to receive items, and we have experienced no negative responses. The staff is proud of their accomplishments, and they are feeling confident about their ability to establish distribution sites and conduct distributions. This week, we are moving to a municipality known as Thaha, and will provide items and cash to over 1,500 more households. The local staff has really got the system down, and we are confident we can reach over 300 beneficiaries per day.

My experience in Makwanpur has been truly exceptional. I have been fully embraced by my Nepal Red Cross family, and they have shown me nothing but kindness, generosity and appreciation since the day I arrived. I had always heard about the kindness of the Nepali people, and I can now say firsthand it is so very true. I feel like I have really been “living” here in Nepal, not just visiting. The work has been hard, the days tiring, but I have enjoyed great friendship, and Nepalese food, daily. I have replaced my daily coffee routine with my new favorite – milk tea! It is a special blend made here in town, and my friends here ask me all day long if I want more. I must admit, I say yes probably too often.

Words cannot accurately describe the special place Nepal and my new family in Makwanpur will forever hold in my heart. This has not been just a mission for me, but rather a life-changing experience for which I will be eternally grateful.

– See more at: http://redcrosschat.org/2015/07/23/life-changing-work-nepal/#sthash.kunLTOgO.nke5zQII.dpuf


What To Do When a Severe Thunderstorm is Headed Your Way

July 14, 2015

Image result for red cross summer storm safety tips

A server thunderstorm warning has been issued for the Western Carolina Region. Don’t get caught in a summer storm without being prepared! The American Red Cross wants you to #stayinformeduringthestorm here are a few simple tips on how!

  • Listen to local weather forecasts to stay aware of the weather and put together an emergency preparedness kit
  • Learn about your community’s emergency warning system for severe thunderstorms
  • Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors
  • Keep your trees and shrubbery trimmed, and remove damaged branches
  • Watch for signs that a storm is near such as darkening of skies, flashes of lightning, and increased winds
  • Postpone any outdoor activities
  • Do not take a bath or a shower or use plumbing
  • Protect your pets by ensuring that any outside buildings that they are housed in are protected in the same way as your home

Flooding

  • Prepare to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash warning is issued
  • If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving waters can sweep you off your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road, and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children away from water

*If you can hear thunder you are close enough to be in danger of being struck by lightning, which kills more people every year than tornadoes and hurricanes. Many people struck by lightning are not in a location where it is raining.


Summer Heat Safety Tips

July 8, 2015

Heat Safety

“High temperatures, humidity, and hot indoor environments can quickly cause heat related emergencies! Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.”

In honor of Heat Safety Week the American Red Cross has some simple steps to help beat the heat:

  • Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. The temperature inside can reach a dangerous level within a few minutes.
  • Slow down, take frequent breaks and drink more water than usual–even if you’re not thirsty!
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • If working outdoors, take frequent breaks and use the buddy system.
  • 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.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household.
  • If you do not have air conditioning choose places you could go for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls)
  • If possible, bring animals inside. If not, frequently check to ensure they are comfortable and have water and a shady place to rest.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.

Top 4th of July Safety Tips for Travel, Grilling, and Fireworks

July 1, 2015

Image result for red cross fireworks

This Fourth of July, many people will be traveling, firing up the backyard grill, or enjoying fireworks, and the American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday weekend. Millions of people will be on the highways over the fourth of July weekend. The Red Cross offers 5 tips to stay safe while traveling

  1. Buckle seat belts, observe speed limitsImage result for red cross cars
  2. Do not drink and drive
  3. Pay full attention to the road–Avoid cell phone usage
  4. Use caution in work zones
  5. Clean the vehicles lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night

The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are 5 safety tips for people setting of fireworks at home

  1. Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight a “dud”
  5. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammables Image result for red cross fireworks

 

Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. In order to remain safe while cooking up treats for the backyard barbecue always supervise a grill when in use, never grill indoors or any enclosed area, ensure that everyone, including pets stay away from the grill, keep the grill out in the open away from anything that could catch fire, and use long-handled tools made especially for grilling to keep the chef safe.

 

“Everyone looks forward to having fun over the fourth of July, and the Red Cross wants to make sure people know how to stay safe while enjoying the holiday”

– Jennifer Franklin, Regional Communications Officer, Western North Carolina Region


Our Objective in all of our Humanitarian Work is to Alleviate Suffering of Those in Need

June 8, 2015

Thanks to the generosity of the American public, almost five and a half years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the          m7640078_HaitiChildrenAmerican Red Cross continues to make a difference in the lives of millions of Haitians who desperately needed help and humanitarian assistance.

With the fund, the American Red Cross has helped build and operate eight hospitals and clinics, stem a deadly cholera outbreak, provide clean water and sanitation, and move more than 100,000 people out of make-shift tents into safe and improved housing. When land was not available for new homes, the Red Cross provided a range of housing solutions including rental subsidies, repairs and retrofitting of existing structures, fulfilling our promise to ensure tens of thousands of Haitians are back in homes. We also built and repaired schools, roadways and water distribution points vital to neighborhoods.

Despite the most challenging conditions, including changes in government, lack of land for housing, and civil unrest, our hardworking staff—90 percent of whom are Haitians—continue to work to meet the long-term needs of the Haitian people. While the pace of progress is never as fast as we would like, Haiti is better off today than it was five years ago.

The Red Cross is disappointed to see our work has been misrepresented in some media so please learn the facts about our recovery program in Haiti and to hear from those we have helped and continue to help, please visit www.redcross.org/haiti. We have also published 13 Facts about the Red Cross Response in Haiti which directly addresses the numerous inaccuracies in recent  media reports.

While the Red Cross has fulfilled our promise to make sure tens of thousands of Haitians are back in homes. There is still much         to do.

For 134 years, the American Red Cross has been there to help people in need; and we will still be there for the next disaster or emergency to help people here in the communities we serve and in other areas around the world.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Red Cross of the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina and the American Red Cross.

Sincerely,


Angela A. Broome

Chief Executive Officer
American Red Cross Western North Carolina Region

 


Veteran of Red Cross volunteerism heads to Houston for flood relief

May 28, 2015

red-crossbynum

Annie Bynum has witnessed the ruin left by numerous natural disasters over 17 years as a Red Cross relief worker.
Yet one thing that never changes is the look on the faces of people who have lost everything they own, and very often people they love.
“I’ve seen so much,” said Bynum, who on Wednesday flew to Houston to aid flood relief efforts there. “Any time I leave home, it doesn’t matter where the devastation or the tragedy is. It’s all the same.”
Her understanding of that despondency is what keeps her going every time a crisis occurs.
“I enjoy what I do in helping people,” she said. “It’s about getting out and doing what I can to put a smile on a person’s face who has lost practically everything they’ve worked for their entire lives, or even lost a family member.”
As of Wednesday, massive flooding in Texas and Oklahoma had resulted in 19 deaths and 10 people going missing. Rivers and streams spilling over their banks have damaged more than 4,000 properties and left 2,500 vehicles abandoned in the Houston area alone.
Bynum, a 68-year-old, retired Gastonia native, was still working at WIX Filters when she joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in 1998. She made her first trip as a relief worker to Puerto Rico that same year, after Hurricane Georges caused massive destruction there.
She’s since built a veritable resume of missions, traveling to eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd in 1999; New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005; New York after Hurricane Sandy in 2012; and most recently Washington state after a massive mudslide there.
She’s been to countless flood and tornado disaster scenes in Oklahoma and Texas. And helping victims in New York City after 9-11 also sticks out in her mind.
“Absolutely devastating assignments,” she said.
Bynum has handled every aspect of disaster relief in her volunteer career. In Houston, she’ll be in charge of purchasing supplies for the Red Cross that can be distributed to people in need. She’ll also likely help with the logistics of managing a supply warehouse, helping to catalog truckloads of donated goods that come in from around the country.
Bynum’s two daughters and six grandchildren, who all live in the Charlotte area, have become accustomed to her leaving for long periods of time as a Red Cross volunteer. She was gone six months during Hurricane Katrina. She’ll likely be in Houston for several weeks.
“You’ve got to be at one of these assignments to see what it really is like, with the devastation, and the sadness and sorrow of the people,” she said.
Being a “people person,” and knowing that she’s helping others to bounce back, give her the strength to keep going.
“I enjoy the thought of doing something that’s making a difference for somebody else,” she said. “It’s good for the soul.”


Nepal: New Earthquake Hits Communities Struggling to Recover

May 16, 2015

Gail McGovern and the crew trek along to see destroyed houses along the remote hills near Dunche with Red Cross staff. Photo by Paula Bronstein/American Red Cross

Gail McGovern and the crew trek along to see destroyed houses along the remote hills near Dunche with Red Cross staff. Photo by Paula Bronstein/American Red Cross

More people will now be in need of emergency shelter…
Red Cross teams in Nepal are on high alert following today’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck near the town of Namche Bazaar, near the base of Mount Everest. Initial reports indicate that hundreds of homes have collapsed, many of which were already damaged by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country on April 25.
American Red Cross President & CEO, Gail McGovern, has just returned from her trip to the small Himalayan country where shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, health care and food remain priorities.
All American Red Cross staff in Nepal have been accounted for. American Red Cross team members deployed to the region in the wake of the April quake have been supporting emergency relief, cash transfer programming, information management, recovery planning and IT/telecoms. More than 80 international and local Red Cross workers based out of the Nepal Red Cross headquarters in Kathmandu, rapidly evacuated the compound when the earthquake struck and now face a night sleeping in a recently erected temporary warehouse until the aftershocks subside.
The Norwegian Red Cross rapid deployment hospital based in the town of Chautara, has seen a steady influx of injured people throughout the day and the support team working at the hospital are helping to set up a camp outside to provide shelter for local villagers, many of whom are too scared to return to their homes or have lost their homes altogether.
The Red Cross’s Maude Froberg was en route to the town of Tatopani close to the Tibetan border. Her convoy was forced to turn back to Kathmandu after worrying reports of landslides in the area.
“We were high up in the mountains. It was quite terrifying as there were about ten aftershocks and we felt that there could be a landslide at any moment,” she said. “Over the course of the afternoon we saw a lot of vehicles heading out of Tatopani towards Kathmandu.”
At the Canadian Red Cross basic health care unit located high up in the mountains in Dhunche, the team witnessed a dramatic landslide when a nearby hillside collapsed into the valley below. View a short video of the rock slide on YouTube – https://youtu.be/T79UDt4_lUo
“The combination of rains and aftershocks now makes our job even more challenging as the roads become highly perilous,” explains Martin Faller, head of operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Asia Pacific. “Today’s earthquake has dealt a double blow to many of the same people who were hit by the 25 April quake. More people will now be in need of emergency shelter but they will also need support dealing with the trauma they have experienced. People are very scared.”
Reports coming in also indicate that there has been damage to areas in the Kathmandu Valley. The Nepal Red Cross has mobilized emergency first aid teams and are providing services to the injured including teams dispatched to Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, where ambulances are transporting the injured to hospitals.
Thus far, the American Red Cross has committed $5 million to help the people of Nepal recover from the devastating earthquake and aftershocks. In addition to the deployment of disaster specialists, the American Red Cross is contributing relief supplies such as jerry cans, tarps and kitchen sets, and is providing remote mapping and information management support, with nearly 4,500 volunteers contributing to mapping Nepal.
Tags:Nepal Earthquake.


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