Haiti Earthquake Update, February 4, 2010

For an up to the minute, straight from the horse’s mouth update on Haiti, visit:

http://www.ifrc.org/what/disasters/response/haiti/index.asp

For those of you who don’t know, the American Red Cross is just a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.  Not in recent history have so many societies from all over the world come together on a relief mission.

The IFRC has put together this (very cool) Google Earth map with current relief activities (requires you to download Google Earth): http://www.ifrc.org/what/disasters/response/haiti/RCRC-activities-in-Haiti_28Jan.kmz

$5 can buy Hope.

Everyone knows money can’t buy you love… but did you know that you can buy a big barrel of hope for only $5.00?

When you give that $5.00 to the American Red Cross, Santa Cruz County Chapter, it’s true.

Just $5.00 can provide bedding for a family at a Red Cross Shelter, or blankets to the victims of a home fire.  If you give only $10.00, you provide a day’s worth of meals to a disaster victim.  Pretty slick, eh?  Any donation to the Red Cross assures that we’ll be there when the community needs us, providing services that help rebuild lives.

Helping the Red Cross in its humanitarian mission is as easy as giving up 1 trip to the coffee shop.  Or, using a coupon the next time you order a pizza.  Or, finding that random $5.00 bill that went through the wash in the pocket of your jeans (I LOVE when that happens).

As always, you can send your donation or come in to 2960 Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz, visit our website at www.sccredcross.org, or give us a call at 831-462-2881 to make your donation.  We also have some awesome community partners that have agreed to take donations on our behalf!  Check out the following locations, and drop some hope in the bucket:

TONY AND ALBA’S PIZZA

PIZZA ONE

LIVE OAK FARMER’S MARKET

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY BANK

LULU CARPENTER’S COFFEE HOUSES

ANGEL SWEETS

PALO ALTO MEDICAL FOUNDATION

SC41 FURNITURE

SAVEMART

STAR BENE RESTAURANT

CHAMINADE RESORT AND SPA

Haiti Earthquake FAQ (January 15, 2010)

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened?

  • The 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti near the capital of Port-au-Prince caused catastrophic damage and significant loss of life.
  • An estimated 3 million people are affected. 
  • Priority needs are food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support.
  • While search and rescue efforts continue, thousands remain trapped and the death toll is rising.
  • In some areas, 70 percent of the houses have been damaged. Thousands of survivors spent a third night out in the open without shelter. People are camping out at around 40 gathering points throughout the city, too scared to spend the night inside damaged buildings that could collapse at any moment.

What challenges is the Red Cross experiencing in this response?

  • Due to the challenging conditions in Haiti of damaged or destroyed transportation and power systems, it is taking longer than we or other relief agencies want, but we are working as hard and fast as we can to get staff and supplies in there. The people we already have on the ground – and the Haitian Red Cross – are doing everything possible under the most difficult of circumstances.
  • The airport tower is unreliable therefore many flights are being diverted and the cranes needed to unload boats have been damaged, rendering them inoperable. While the airport is operational for humanitarian flights, there is a huge backlog and the Red Cross is among the organizations waiting for clearance for local authorities. The port is not expected to open until January 18.
  • Police, fire response and medical teams are overwhelmed and the overall security situation is tense. Food and water supplies are limited, contributing to people’s anxiety.
  • Many areas are accessible, but some roads are covered with debris, making travel within the capital city difficult.
  • There is a near-total blackout in Port-au-Prince. Due to limited electricity, communications remain difficult with unreliable land and cellular lines, which are critically important to coordinate and direct a massive response such as this.

What types of assistance has the Red Cross been able to provide?

  • A handful of disaster responders from the American Red Cross have arrived in Port-au-Prince and are coordinating with local and international partners to overcome the logistical challenges and bring aid into the country.
  • These individuals join the 15-person staff we already had on the ground and 12 Red Cross teams that arrived from other countries yesterday. Among them are engineers, surgeons and family linking specialists. These teams will establish field hospitals, restore water and sanitation systems, distribute supplies and restore family links facilities.
  • The Red Cross provided blood and blood products to the US Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. That blood, requested by the US Navy, was shipped by the US Navy to their facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in support of medical evacuees from Haiti. In addition, the American Red Cross sent a shipment of blood products to the United Nations Mission in Haiti.

ADDITIONAL INFO: At this point, no specific request has been made by the Haitian government for the American Red Cross to provide blood or blood products to support treatment of the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The American Red Cross ships blood overseas, if available, at the request of the foreign government involved in the disaster.

  • A second plane, carrying 40 tons of supplies – mainly medical items – is en route to Haiti. Included on the International Committee of the Red Cross-sponsored flight are specialized kits to help treat the wounded, basic medicines and chlorine for water treatment.
  • Yesterday, International Committee of the Red Cross workers in Port-au-Prince provided medical assistance to five major hospitals and clinics, as well as to smaller facilities set up by local doctors in areas with a high concentration of earthquake survivors.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross is also helping to reconnect separated families within the country. They have established a special Web site, enabling persons in Haiti and abroad to search for and register the names of relatives missing since the earthquake:www.icrc.org/familylinks. Within 48 hours of its launch, more than 13,800 visited the site looking for loved ones.

ADDITIONAL INFO: About 1,100 people have registered on the site from Haiti to inform their loved ones that they are safe and well.

What does the Red Cross expect to provide in terms of assistance within the next few days, weeks and months?

  • Two planes carrying Red Cross humanitarian assistance are due to land this afternoon in Port-au-Prince, if they are not re-routed. The first one carries a field hospital and the second carries tarps, blankets, hygiene items, buckets, shelter supplies and kitchen sets.
  • Today, the American Red Cross is working with airport authorities to transport additional items from our global warehouse in Panama into Port-au-Prince.
  • Given the massive needs and the extent of the damage that we are seeing so far, we know this will take considerable resources to help the people of Haiti recover.  It may be many weeks or even months to understand the full extent of the damage, and we expect the recovery will take years. 
  • This is not unprecedented for the Red Cross. Five years after Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross is still helping many communities restore what was lost.

Is the Red Cross helping to evacuate U.S. citizens from Haiti?

  • No. The Red Cross doesn’t have the expertise, equipment or resources to perform every disaster service such as evacuation coordination, transportation, or search and rescue.
  • The U.S. State Department is responsible for evacuating U.S. citizens from Haiti and the Red Cross coordinates with the State Department and other government agencies to support these citizens when they reach the United States.

Is the Red Cross helping U.S. citizens as they arrive from Haiti in the United States?

  • Yes. Some Red Cross chapters may be asked to support U.S. citizens as they arrive in the United States from Haiti. Services being provided at points of entry may vary slightly depending on the needs of those Americans as they arrive.
  • Depending on the circumstances Red Cross chapters may provide the following services: sheltering, feeding, emotional support, basic first aid, distribution of comfort kits and referrals to other community services.

How can I find a missing relative?

  • The International Committee of the Red Cross has established a family linking Web site, enabling persons in Haiti and abroad to search for and register the names of relatives missing since the earthquake:www.icrc.org/familylinks
  • If you’re trying to reach a U.S. citizen living or traveling in Haiti, you should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747.

Public Compassion

How much money has the American Red Cross raised for this relief operation?

  • More than half of all donations have come through online contributions, with strong support as well from corporations and the record-breaking generosity through mobile giving.

ADDITIONAL INFO: The American Red Cross has received more than $8 million as of 11 p.m. EST on Thursday through a mobile fundraising effort to support our relief efforts in Haiti.

  • This record-breaking generosity will help thousands of survivors cope with and recover from their losses.
  • The third-party mobile fundraising effort launched on January 12, approximately three hours after the earthquake struck Haiti.  The program is powered by Mobile Accord and the MGive Foundation in coordination with the U.S. State Department as part of its ongoing support of this disaster response.
  • Mobile donors can text “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross.
  • We are grateful for this mobile fundraising opportunity, and for the support of the State Department and other government leaders to draw attention to this important program.
  • Donors using this technology may opt in to receive future updates, but will not be solicited again without this consent nor will their personal information be shared with other organizations.

How much money has the American Red Cross spent on this relief effort?

  • It is too early to say how much this relief operation will cost the international community. The American Red Cross has already released $10 million for relief efforts in Haiti. That is only our initial commitment, and based on the growing amount of pledges, we will certainly add more. Future allocations will be made once we know more about the situation on the ground in Haiti and the greatest needs in both the short term and in the long term.
  • An average of 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.

How can people donate?

  • People who want to help those affected by the Haitian earthquake can make a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donors can designate their gifts to Haiti relief. 
  • The Red Cross is also receiving money through a third-party mobile fundraising effort in which mobile donors can text “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross.  The funds will go to support the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

How far will my donation go?

  • Families who have lost everything in an international disaster need immediate help just to make it through the first terrifying hours and days. A cooking set, toilet paper and a toothbrush, safe water and a blanket to keep warm – these simple items are essential as families struggle to survive. For $100, you can give one family a basic kit that will provide a month’s supplies.

Example of the supply kit being sent to Haiti. Photo: Jeanette Ortiz/American Red Cross

How does this response compare to past disasters in terms of financial donations?

  • The response to the emergency in Haiti has been impressive and moving, and the donations to the American Red Cross have exceeded the totals amounts received in the first 48 hours of both Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

I heard rumors of fraudulent emails; is this true?

  • There are reports of fraudulent emails that are abusing the Red Cross emblem to solicit donations globally.
  • Please forward all suspicious emails and Web sites to fraudissues@ifrc.org.

Is the Red Cross accepting volunteers or goods for Haiti?

  • While we appreciate these heartfelt offers, we are not recruiting volunteers or accepting household items for Haiti relief.
  • We are only deploying Red Cross volunteers specially trained to manage international emergency operations.
  • Please consider supporting your community’s needs by volunteering with your local Red Cross; some chapters are in need of local volunteers to staff call centers and other activities in support of this response.  
  • At this time, what we need the most are financial contributions – whether by check, online or by phone. The Red Cross and other the organizations leading the efforts in Haiti most need financial gifts in order to best serve the victims. Things like clothes are not helpful right now because there is nowhere to store them, no one to sort them, and it would be difficult to transport the items to Haiti. One good way to turn clothes into cash is to have a garage sale and then donate the money to the relief efforts.
  • If you would like to offer supplies or to travel to Haiti, please visit Interaction.org for a list of organizations accepting this type of support.
  • Medical personnel can register at Center for International Disaster Information, an independent site that matches organizations with offers of goods and services.

Do you need blood donations?

  • The American Red Cross is meeting the needs of this tragedy through current supplies.
  • At this time we do not anticipate the need for a special donor appeal to support our efforts.
  • As always, blood donors are encouraged to call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.

Background

Did the Red Cross have people in Haiti when the earthquake struck?

  • The American Red Cross has a 15-person office in Haiti focused year-round on HIV/AIDS education, malaria prevention, measles vaccinations and disaster preparedness.
  • The local Red Cross has been meeting humanitarian needs in Haiti since 1932 and specializes in providing first aid, disaster preparedness education and ambulance services.
  • We have had limited contact with our staff in Haiti, but do know that they are safe and responding to the survivors’ needs.

Why should someone donate to the Red Cross?

  • The Red Cross is the largest nonprofit organization with permanent presence in Haiti and plays an important coordination role among other humanitarian groups within the country.
  • Our more than 97 million volunteers worldwide – and hundreds of local responders from Haiti – give the Red Cross the expertise, scale and scope to manage catastrophic disasters from the moment they strike.

What (else) we do.

When people think about the Red Cross, they generally think of only one thing at a time.  Like Blood donations, or disaster relief.  But we do SO MUCH MORE than that.

Here are our top 4 least known, but not least important programs:

Some of our Youth get ready for SafeRides

Some of our Youth get ready for SafeRides

1. Non Emergency Medical Transportation for elderly and low income patients.

We take people who would otherwise have great difficulties getting to their medical appointments over the hill to hospitals such as the VA, Stanford and UCSF.  This service is the only lifeline for many of our clients.  The service is free and the program is funded entirely by donations.

2. Service to the Armed Forces and their families

One of our oldest service lines is our service to the armed forces.  We help deliver emergency messages to military members abroad and offer the families services such as counseling, financial aid, and more.  In the event of a family emergency, we help bring military members home to be with their families.

Visiting Troops in the Hospital

Visiting Troops in the Hospital

3. Youth Services

Thanks to our Youth Services Manager, Katie Radvanyi, we have a flourishing Youth Services Department.  The department helps high school and college students create and implement youth run programs including events for the Measles Initiative and Safe Rides for Teens, a program offering rides home to youth who find themselves in a dangerous situation.  In the past, Youth Services has done programs such as Operation: Care and Comfort, which sent donated items to military oversees.  Youth Services even has its own core of disaster services volunteers who are learning how to work in a Red Cross shelter.

4. Holocaust Tracing

The Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center is a national clearinghouse for persons seeking the fates of loved ones

The Bay Area Red Cross Chapter helped Rosa (Pictured) find out what happened to her parents and baby brother during WWII

The Bay Area Red Cross Chapter helped Rosa (Pictured) find out what happened to her parents and baby brother during WWII

missing since the Holocaust and its aftermath.  It assists U.S. residents searching for proof of internment, forced/slave labor, or evacuation from former Soviet territories on themselves or family members.

  • All tracing services are free of charge.
  • They use the worldwide network of more than 180 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and the Magen David Adom in Israel.
  • They also consult museums, archives, and international organizations to further facilitate tracing requests.
  • Cases remain open, and if new information becomes available, it is immediately shared with the inquirer.

As a chapter, we facilitate communications between this important branch of the Red Cross and people who may need the service in our area.

See anything you’re interested in?  There are volunteer opportunities!  Shoot us an email at volunteer@sccredcross.org

Happy Birthday Red Cross (And Lorraine!)

Today, the American Red Cross is 128 years old.  That’s a lot of years of helping people!

In an amazing turn of fate, one of our Disaster Services Volunteers celebrates a birthday today as well.  Lorraine Jacobs, one of our most motivated volunteers, is 52 today. Happy Birthday, Lorraine!

Lorraine Loves Roosters!

Lorraine Loves Roosters!

Santa Barbara Fire Response: A volunteer’s perspective

One of our volunteers, Mr. Bill Fitler, just got back from working the wildfire relief down in Santa Barbara.  Bill is a great volunteer and board member.  He goes to almost every disaster and works in leadership roles at the shelters.  AND, Bill does all of this with a relative calm.  As you can imagine, this is a helpful trait to have during a disaster response.

During his time in Santa Barbara, Bill wrote this entry on his Facebook page.  It’s an awesome look into the life of a Red Cross volunteer.  Thanks for sharing, Bill!

I’m volunteering for the Red Cross doing disaster relief for the Jesusita Fire. This past Friday, 4 of us were called down from our Santa Cruz chapter. I came down to help Govt Liaisons in the Emergency Operations Center (which was a new role for me). Santa Barbara has a very strong disaster cadre, and with the events of last year (Gap and Tea fires) they have recent experience. So I was a tad surprised that they called for mutual support.

The reason that the mutual aid call went out is because of how scary it was on Thursday night. The “sundowner” winds that night kicked in about 10pm and more than doubled the fire size in the next few hours. They evacuated 9000(?) homes at 2am and flooded the shelters with people who had little time to ask friends and family for a place to stay. We got down on Friday, and watched the spectacular flames viewable that were visible on the hills from most of the city.

On Saturday morning the fog had rolled in. Along with 590 fire engines and 4500 firefighters. It went from 10% containment to 55% containment this Sunday morning (which, thankfully, is still a bit foggy). Another “weather event” could arrive as soon as tomorrow, which could put the kabosh on our winding down – but unless that happens, its starting to feel like a drill (and that’s a good thing).

Working disaster for the Red Cross is no picnic. Friday night I slept (sort of) in a staff shelter on a cot (Saturday afternoon I slept through a staff meeting…) The hours can be really long: even when things are winding down, 12 hour shifts aren’t uncommon. There are times of frustration and hectic business interspersed with hours of waiting just being at a post.

And I meet a lot of great people. I’ve got a powerful respect for fire crews battling the fires in these rugged conditions (and did I mention that fire season *starts* tomorrow?) My fellow volunteers turn out to have fascinating stories (and sometimes we’ll have hours to share them with each other). And my heart goes out to the clients we meet who have been turned out of their homes either temporarily or much longer. Been there, done that – and I know how great it can be to get the t-shirt from someone who cares.

Fargo, North Dakota floods

We’re sending some volunteers out to the flooding in and around Fargo, ND.  Volunteers on their way are:

Beth Bloom of Aptos, working as a Facilities Manager

Leonard Davis of Santa Cruz, working as a Material Support Manager

Craig Jenni of Watsonville, working as a Sheltering Supervisor

Wendy Ostrow of Santa Cruz, working as a Nursing Supervisor

We will be sending more volunteers over the weekend.

Did you notice how many “Supervisor” titles are in the above list?  Our volunteers are awesome!  Santa Cruz County should feel extremely taken care of – our volunteers are some of the best trained in the region. We also have a great number of volunteers – 410.  That is a huge number of active Disaster Services volunteers for a county of our size!

We’re always looking for more volunteers!  If you’re interested, call Patsy Hernandez at 831-462-2881 x16.  We are especially seeking nurses and mental health workers at this time!

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