Friday, September 30, 2011

Tips to Stay Well after a Disaster

Red Cross volunteer Felicia Adams of Austin talks to Shannon Shine, a woman from Bastrop who came to the Red Cross shelter overwhelmed and looking for help after losing her house in the wildfires. 

Natural disasters can cause severe material damage and can also bring about a lot of stress. Disasters affect  not only those people who may have lost their homes, but also volunteers or workers helping those affected.
During the recent wildfires in Central Texas, not only was the American Red Cross involved in making sure residents had the shelter, food, and medical care they needed after being evacuated from their homes, but also that emotional support was given. American Red Cross counselors provided this support by visiting Red Cross shelters and the communities affected by the wildfires to provide counseling to residents in the area.

Disasters like the recent wildfires affect all of us in some way. It's important that we all take time to take care of ourselves and each other.

Here are a few tips to help stay well:
  • Take care of your safety. One of the first steps to take is to make sure that you and your family have safe place to stay and that all medical necessities are being met.
  • Eat healthy. It is important to drink plenty of water and maintain a balanced diet during time of stress.
  • Get some rest. Getting sleep will help you cope better and relieve some of the stress you may be experiencing.
  • Stay connected with family and friends. The Red Cross offers a way of helping you get in contact with family and friends to let them know you are safe and well. Staying connected and having emotional support from loved ones as well as giving is one of the most important things to do during this time.
  • Set priorities. It is important to tackle things in small steps and not attempt to do everything at once so that you do not feel overwhelmed with so much to do.
  • Gather information about assistance and resources to help you and your family on how to proceed after the disaster. 
  • Stay positive. Remember how you have gotten through stressful situations in the past and that there are many resources available that will also help through this situation.
For these and other helpful tips about taking care of your emotional needs after a disaster you can visit this page.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Home Depot Lends a Helping Hand

American Red Cross volunteers Conrado and Alicia Soto prepare Home Depot buckets with cleaning supplies for Bastrop residents.

Soon after the Central Texas wildfires broke out, the Home Depot was quick to offer a helping hand. As a member of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program, the Home Depot plays a crucial role helping the American Red Cross in disaster relief efforts.

The American Red Cross was able to set up a bulk distribution center at the Bastrop Home Depot where Red Cross volunteers passed out essential necessities, like cleaning supplies, sifters, and shovels, to Bastrop residents affected by the wildfires.

The shovels, cleaning supplies, and material for the sifters were purchased by the American Red Cross, but we could have not done it without the Home Depot. Not only did the Home Depot allow us to set up a distribution center at their Bastrop location, but many of their employees volunteered their time to build the sifters that were handed out to the residents.

Volunteer Conrado Soto helps Bastrop resident, Humberto Castelan, sift through the ashes of what once used to be his home.

As simple as these sifters may seem, they can help residents look for lost valuables and family heirlooms they may have thought were lost in the fires. To learn more about how these sifters helped area residents cope with the wildfires you can visit: Sifting Through the Ashes

Monday, September 26, 2011

Music for a Good Cause

As an intern for the Red Cross I got the great opportunity to attend one of the many Red Cross fundraisers being held in the Austin area. Being a music lover I jumped at the opportunity to check out some local bands that wanted to do something for their community. 

Local Austinites, Amarah Ulghani and Talib Abdullahi, wanted to do something to help their community and those affected by the recent wildfires in central Texas, so in a week they called their friends and came up with Music for Bastrop, which was held Thursday, September 15 at the Spider House Ballroom. 

Music for Bastrop featured Amarah’s band, The Sour Notes, and 7 other bands. When talking to Amarah I could tell how much she wanted to help the Bastrop community and how close she felt to the American Red Cross.

“We wanted to do something to help the community and we wanted the money to go towards an organization that we felt would do a great job. Having volunteered with the Red Cross before, I felt that this would be a great organization to donate to.”

 All night the bands were taking clothing and food donations as well as other necessities to be donated to the Central Texas Food Bank. All cover proceeds were donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund as well as with other monetary donations collected. In total, this amazing benefit concert raised over $2,000. 

Overall, this was such a fun experience. It was awesome to see how motivated young people were to help out our community, and I got to hear a lot of new bands that I can't wait to see again. Definitely a successful night!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nana's Garden

“This is it,” said Shirley Ellett.  “This is all that’s left of ‘Nana’s Garden.’”

The Texas grandmother of two points to the only stone on her scorched land that appears to be untouched by recent wildfires.

“My granddaughters painted this rock for me,” explained Ellett as she struggled to lift the heavy stone.  “And when we came home we saw we had lost everything.  Everything, but this.”

Ellett is surrounded by family, including her grandkids, and she’s covered in a blanket she received from the American Red Cross.   She’s using the blanket to keep herself dry from an afternoon storm that rolled into Bastrop County this weekend.

“The rain would have been nice a week ago,” she said.  Thankfully I had this blanket inside my kit.”  Also in the Red Cross backpack is a flashlight that can also charge a cell phone, a first aid kit and gloves.

“This has been wonderful,” said Ellett standing next to her daughter.  “Yesterday we were able to get a sifter, trash bags and snacks at the Red Cross station down the street. Thank you so much.”

Wildfires across Texas have destroyed more than 1,500 homes and left many wondering where they’ll go from here.  That’s why more than 340 volunteers and staff with the American Red Cross have spread across the Lone Star State handing out comfort kits, feeding affected families and supporting overnight shelters.

In addition to providing counseling to those who have been affected by the fires, Red Cross volunteers have teamed up with the Southern Baptist Convention to serve more than 6,000 meals in Bastrop County alone.  

Ellett says this is home and she plans to rebuild on her land here in the Paige community.

“I have my family. We’re strong.  We’ll be fine”, she said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Join Lindsey and Avery, Make a Difference for Your Community

Lindsey and Avery Colgin (ages 8 and 10) are a great example this week of how we can all do our part for families affected by disaster. Lindsey and Avery wanted to do something for all the families recovering from the recent wildfires, so they held a lemonade stand to raise money. Their mom suggested that they also accept donations as well, and Lindsey and Avery ended up raising over $100 for American Red Cross disaster relief!

Here's a photo of Avery and Lindsey at work raising money for families in need:

And here they are donating $122 for disaster relief at the American Red Cross of Central Texas:

Great work Avery and Lindsey! We hope that you'll get involved in your community just like they did by volunteering or donating today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Astoria Entertainment Joins Us for Bulk Distribution and to Encourage Community Involvement

Early last week I received a call from Charlie Bewley asking how he, Matt Dallas, Steven Grayhm, and Jupiter Baudot with the documentary project  Into the Heart of America: A Soldier's Story and Astoria Entertainment could get involved in our response to the devastating fires in our area while they were in Austin. Charlie was adamant that they wanted to work and raise awareness about Red Cross disaster response.

On Saturday, September 10th, I was able to take them out to our bulk distribution site at The Home Depot in Bastrop and put them to work handing out cleaning supplies, shovels, gloves, masks, and sifters to help affected families.

 Here are Charlie Bewley, Jupiter Baudot, George Rice, myself, Steven Grayhm, and Matt Dallas at our bulk distribution site preparing to help Central Texans in need.

 Matt and Steven directed traffic through our drive-through bulk distribution center so that our volunteers (including Charlie and George) could put the clean up supplies and equipment right into their cars and trucks. They talked with disaster victims and did a great job helping our clients feel heard and cared for during this difficult time. 

All of the guys worked hard and made our clients and volunteers smile while really helping us achieve our mission and be there for families in need. 

I hope that you'll join our famous friends and volunteer to be there the next time disaster strikes

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Photos of Central Texas Fire Shelter Workers and Evacuees

Check out these great pictures of your American Red Cross at work helping our neighbors affected by wildfires in Bastrop! Shelters are still open for families in need, and we will continue to be there for our community because of your generosity.

We hope that you'll join us today and help us respond whenever disaster strikes.