Dennis ‘The Menace’ on Giving Back

By Lois Beckman and Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteers

American Red Cross casework volunteer, Dennis “the Menace” Lutz believes he has two sets of people to care for while deployed to the recent disaster in Texas — the first group is of course the families who have seen their homes damaged or destroyed by the recent floods — the second group of people are his fellow volunteers.

“Casework can be a difficult job because of the things you hear from people; their stories of loss,” says Lutz. So he makes it a point to help lighten the load of the volunteers by making them laugh.  His fellow volunteers jokingly refer to him as Dennis “the Menace”.

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Dennis ‘The Menace’ Lutz helps families affected by recent floods with their case management to receive the assistance they need.

Lutz, retired from the fire service, is from Kentucky.  His deployment to Austin, Texas is his third such assignment with the Red Cross this year.  As a firefighter, Lutz appreciated the support of the Red Cross to those on the front lines.

“They were always there with hot coffee for us in the winter and cold water in the heat,” He said. “Being a volunteer is my way of giving back to the Red Cross.”

When asked what one word Lutz would use to describe the American Red Cross, he chose “Phenomenal”.  He states, “People come from all different backgrounds and from all across the country when disasters hit.  They hear the call and they jump into action.  Volunteers hit the road to help people they’ve never even met. My fellow Red Cross workers are the some of the best people in the world.”

Over 50 feeding units have gathered in Texas to provide relief for the families affected. As of two weeks after the sever storms on May 26th, 2016, there are more than 400 volunteers from all over the United States working as a part of the Red Cross disaster relief.

Lutz says he feels lucky to be able to be a member of the Red Cross. “I’m blessed with being able to have a pension, and an understanding and caring wife who says, ‘go help, they need help,’ so that’s why I do it,” he said.

The American Red Cross wouldn’t be able to distribute its aid without volunteers like you. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.redcross.org.

 

Dennis ‘The Menace’ on Giving Back

Volunteers Assess Damaged Homes in Southern Texas

By Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteer

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Red Cross volunteer Diane Telfer, from Monmouth Oregon, stands in front of a home damaged by recent flooding in Washington County, Texas, as she assesses the damage.

While the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and case management during disaster relief, there’s another crucial job conducted by volunteers that help the organization give aid to those who need it the most. The homes of those affected by disasters are assessed in order for the Red Cross to determine the assistance required for each household.

The volunteers are given a list of addresses, search for these homes and determine the level of damage, and the information is then sent to headquarters instantly through a mobile app. It might sound easy, but Red Cross damage assessment volunteer Diane Telfer said sometimes these homes are hard to locate or may be difficult to access due to the disaster.

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Diane Kelfer examines a home damaged by recent flooding in Washington County, Texas.

“Challenges included access to the affected areas and affected homes, determining the extent of the damage, and getting the information timely to the right people in order for the information to be useful,” Diane said.

The volunteers often speak with the homeowners if they are present, hearing about their stories of surviving the storms. They are sometimes permitted to see the full extent of the damage inside the home and learn about all that they have lost. The losses are often very severe, making the volunteer’s job even more crucial to properly assess all the help that is needed.

“It is gratifying to help people,” Diane said. “I feel that it is a way to give back for how much God has blessed me.”

Diane traveled from her home at Monmouth, Oregon to assist in the Red Cross disaster relief in Bryan, Texas. Volunteers travel from all over the country when disasters strike. Since the severe weather hit Southern Texas on May 26th, 2016, the Red Cross has opened 37 shelters,  served 55256 meals and snacks, with the help of 483 volunteers from all over the nation.

“We all should find a way to serve others whether near or far from home,” Diane said.

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Red Cross volunteers Diane and Bill Wilson from California speak with Goodwill Baptist Church Deacon Tom Sullivan, whose church was destroyed during the recent flood.

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please direct them to the American Red Cross serving Central Texas, 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org.

Volunteers Assess Damaged Homes in Southern Texas

Red Cross Opens Family Assistance Center in Somerville

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The American Red Cross South and Central Texas Region is assisting families affected by recent flooding events by distributing clean-up supplies, providing case management help, and mental health support. Services will be open this Wednesday and Thursday, June 8th and 9th, from 10:00am to 7:00pm at the Somerville Historical Museum.

WHEN: June 8th and 9th, Wednesday and Thursday

WHERE: Somerville Historical Museum, 651 Avenue A, Sommerville, TX

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OFFERING: Assistance to families affected by recent flooding events

 

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please direct them to the American Red Cross serving Central Texas, 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org.

Red Cross Opens Family Assistance Center in Somerville

Red Cross Assesses Tornado Damage in Texas

By Lois Beckman and Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteers

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Mary Green talks with Red Cross volunteer Diane Telfer regarding the damage to her home caused when a tornado tore through her neighborhood. Mary was home alone studying when a tornado alert was issued for the area. “I was getting alerts on my phone, but I always get them, and nothing ever comes,” she said.

Without a basement, Mary felt the tornado damage her home as parts of her roof got torn off.

“I had never been through a tornado before,” Mary said. “The house really shook. When it stopped and I looked out my front door and saw parts of my roof across the road and in the tree, I started to cry. Not because I was upset, but because I was grateful to be alive.”

Red Cross volunteers met Mary while assessing local damages in Navasota, Texas. Volunteers like Diane are a part of the disaster assessment team, who look at homes damaged by recent severe weather to determine the assistance needed from the Red Cross.

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Red Cross volunteer Bill Wilson stands in front of Mary’s lawn, where parts of her roof were torn off by the tornado and flew onto the tree and the road.

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, please call the American Red Cross of Central Texas at 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.redcross.org.

Red Cross Assesses Tornado Damage in Texas

Home Damaged By Floods for the Second Time

By Lois Beckman and Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteers

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Travis County resident Martha Miles, with her son Patrick on the right and Red Cross volunteer Catherine Sarkany on the left.

The recent floods have caused damage to the home of Martha Miles for the second time in less than eight months.  “We were in the process of replacing floor tiles that were damaged during the flooding in October when this flood happened. Now we have to rip up the entire floor and start from scratch,” said Miles, pictured above with her son Patrick and American Red Cross volunteer Catherine Sarkany.

Martha and her son were at the Family Assistance Center in Travis County on Sunday where the Red Cross provided assistance to those affected by the recent flooding. Like Martha, many in the neighborhood experienced flooding up to 4 feet when severe weather hit the area on May 26th. Although rain has stopped in Texas, the recovery efforts continue as residents salvage their homes and many still seek refuge at Red Cross Shelters.

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, please call the American Red Cross of Central Texas at 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.redcross.org.

Home Damaged By Floods for the Second Time

Family of 57 Finds Refuge in a Red Cross Shelter

By Monique Knight and Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteers

Ranging in age from 1 to 50 years old, 57 members of the Smith* family are eating lunch, playing video games, shooting basketball, playing musical instruments and creating structures out of building blocks – all at a local Red Cross shelter. The family has been here since May 26 and has found comfort in being together in the face of disaster.

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Member of the Smith* family plays with blocks at the Red Cross shelter in Giddings, Texas.

It was 10pm when a deputy Sheriff knocked on the door and warned Lydia* of rising flood waters in her neighborhood. “The deputy left and barely reached the end of the road when he came back with his emergency lights on. He told us that evacuation was now mandatory and that we had to leave immediately,” Lydia said. “I put some clothes into a plastic bag and got everyone to the front door, but the water had risen so fast it was already coming in under the door. By the time we reached the road in our car, it was almost up to the top of the hood.”
The extended Smith family lives in the same neighborhood, so all were able to escape the flood together. “We were the first ones to leave and I could see a line of cars behind us,” Lydia said.  “Some vehicles were left behind and are still under water.” But at least the family is safe.

“I put some clothes into a plastic bag and got everyone to the front door, but the water had risen so fast it was already coming in under the door,” Lydia said, as a deputy Sheriff warned her family to evacuate her home immediately.

Sheriffs informed the family about the Red Cross shelter in Giddings and the clan headed there.  “The Red Cross gave us someplace to go when there wasn’t any other place,” Lydia said.  “Thanks to the Red Cross, we all have a place to sleep and plenty to eat. The Red Cross workers entertain the children but they also sit with the grown-ups and comfort us too.”

The family is not letting their temporary living situation hamper joyful events — they have celebrated two birthdays, a kindergarten graduation, and a high school graduation in the shelter.

Lydia and her husband recently visited their home site by boat to assess the damage and said the house has shifted on its foundation, with major cracks in the roof and sides. Water on the inside of the home remains about 3 feet high and they cannot get inside to salvage any of their belongings. Officials have estimated that it may be more than a month before electricity is restored in the area.

It will be a long road to recovery, and The Red Cross will be here with resources for the Smith family and others long after they leave the shelter and make their way through the recovery process.

 

*Names have been changed in respect of client privacy.

 

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please direct them to the American Red Cross serving Central Texas, 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.redcross.org

Family of 57 Finds Refuge in a Red Cross Shelter

Red Cross Opens Family Assistance Center

Clean-up distribution

The American Red Cross South and Central Texas Region is assisting families affected by recent flooding events by distributing clean-up supplies in Austin. The items will be distributed this Sunday and Monday, June 5th and 6th, from 12:00pm to 7:00pm at the Family Assistance Center, at the intersection of Man-O-War Avenue and Ruidosa Street off FM 973.

WHEN: June 5th and 6th Monday and Sunday

WHERE: Intersection of Man-O-War avenue and Ruidosa Street off FM 973

DISTRIBUTING: Clean-up Supplies

OFFERING: Assistance to families affected by recent flooding events

 

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please direct them to the American Red Cross serving Central Texas, 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org.

Red Cross Opens Family Assistance Center