Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Red Cross to Distribute Clean-Up Kits in Storm Affected Areas

The American Red Cross will be distributing free clean-up kits and other materials to help residents as they begin to recover from last week’s devastating lake effect snowstorm. Clean-up kits-including brooms, buckets, work and rubber gloves, bleach, tarps, shovels and more- will be available while supplies last, along with information on what to do after a flood and specially-trained Disaster Mental Health volunteers to help area residents deal with the emotional impact of this storm.

WHAT:          Red Cross clean-up materials distribution

WHEN:         Wednesday, November 26, 2pm-5pm
                        Friday, November 28, 11am-2pm

WHERE:      Iroquois Middle School, 2111 Girdle Road, Elma
                        St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran, 3512 Clinton Street, West Seneca                   

The Salvation Army will be providing hot meals at both locations on both Wednesday and Friday as they continue to support the relief efforts. The Salvation Army has provided over 2,000 meals since the relief efforts began last week. Volunteers from the Southern Baptists will also be supporting the distribution, joining some of the 114 Red Cross staff and volunteers currently working on the relief efforts.

The Red Cross continues to operate a shelter at Iroquois Middle School, where six people spent Monday night. Four Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) have been bringing food, water and additional support directly into the hardest hit areas, and Disaster Assessment teams have been assessing the damage and helping guide the response efforts.

The Red Cross continues to work with emergency officials at the state, county and local level to monitor developments and ensure that community needs are being met as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Digging out, then helping out

"I'm sore!" That's what Red Cross volunteer Mike Koscielny told me when I asked him how he was doing today. Why, you ask?

Mike joined the lake effect snow relief operation on Saturday after digging himself out of his Lancaster home.

"We had almost five feet," Mike said. "Shoveled for seven hours on Tuesday, then just tried to stay on top of it."

The backyard at Mike Koscielny's Lancaster home
Mike also helped neighbors shovel and fix their snow blowers as they broke down trying to move this unprecedented snowfall. ("Mine is being held together with tape and glue."). Furnaces were also an issue, icing up because of the amount of snow.

"Even walking was ridiculous," he says. "You were sinking down to your waist, like a quicksand of snow."

Despite it all, Mike said his neighbors have kept an optimistic attitude. For the most part.

"A couple said, 'that's it. I'm moving!' But your house will still be there when the snow melts. After a hurricane, it might not be."

After putting in all this effort to dig himself and his neighbors, you might think Mike would want to take a rest. But after his street was just plowed yesterday, Mike was here at our Clement Mansion headquarters first thing this morning, on the job working Disaster Services Technology and Staffing.

"Have to help everybody else," he says. "I'm done helping family and friends, everyone is safe. Now it's time to move on to helping other people."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

You Saved My Life!

“I haven’t had sleep in 24 hours!”
Jeanette Jay with Winging It TV's Matt Snyder at
Iroquois Middle School shelter

Jeanette Jay had been evacuated from her home in the French Quarter Mobile Park in West Seneca

Thursday evening when of the snow from the lake effect storm threatened to collapse her roof.

“There was 12 feet of snow in my driveway,” Jay said. “I left my pets behind, I had to make a decision. I’m lucky to be here.”

The emergency officials that rescued Jay bused her and almost 30 of her neighbors to the Red Cross shelter at Iroquois Middle School in Elma.

“The treatment has been out of this world,” Jay said of the volunteers who provided hot meals, a place to rest, and emotional support at the shelter. “The facilities are the best they could’ve taken people to.”
This picture gives you an idea of how much snow has
piled up on people's roofs

Jay actually came to Western New York after her Pennsylvania home was destroyed by fire years ago. However, she hadn’t needed Red Cross services until this storm, and she is grateful for all the help she's received.

“You saved my life,” she said.

65 people spent Friday night in Red Cross shelters at the Iroquois Middle School, 211 Girdle Road in Elma, and Goodell Hall, 12847 Erie Street in Irving. Volunteers continue to operate those shelters as preparations are being made for potential flooding in the next few days. Please take some time to prepare yourself and your family for possible flooding, and download the FREE Red Cross Flood App for real-time alerts and additional safety tips.

Friday, November 21, 2014

"It's My Little Adventure"

Joy Lawrence of Brampton, ONT
"I'm really enjoying this. I call it my little adventure!"

That's not exactly what you'd expect to hear from a trucker stranded by an unprecedented lake effect snowstorm. Joy Lawrence was trying to get his rig back to Brampton, Ontario, Canada Tuesday when the snow started falling.

"Almost made it," Lawrence said Thursday from the Red Cross shelter at Iroquois Middle School in Elma. "Got stuck at 2:30, slept in my truck. I'd never gotten stranded, never seen snow like this before."

After getting some help digging out his rig, two police officers led Lawrence to the Jamison Road fire hall. The next day, he and others were transferred to the larger shelter at Iroquois Middle, where volunteers were able to provide them with additional services including showers.

"Wow, Red Cross, you guys are awesome," Lawrence said. Really helpful, really kind, really understanding. They're willing to help you in every way. Food, shelter, nursing. Sometimes it's hard for me to explain. I'm 100% satisfied with your services.
The snow continued to fall outside our shelter at
Iroquois Middle School in Elma Thursday afternoon

Despite being stranded in a foreign country, Joy's spirit throughout his ordeal really lived up to his first name.

"I've met some really lovely people," he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Joy was one of 35 Canadians staying in Red Cross shelters in WNY. There were also 22 people from China, 3 from Brazil, and one each from Australia, India and the Philippines, making this a truly international operation.

"The American Red Cross is one of the best in the world," said Lawrence before returning home.