Thursday, October 29, 2009

Volunteer says Samoans helped with tsunami relief

Villages were decimated, dozens killed and life dramatically, horribly changed for the people of Samoa and American Samoa.

It could have been a time of emotional devastation for the locals, a time of anger and grief over the loss, but instead, a Utah volunteer who went there to help described it as a great demonstration of generosity.

"The people are overwhelming," said Utah Red Cross volunteer Stan Rosenzweig.

"Their village was almost totally destroyed … they were terribly beat up, but that was the first thing to come out — their people wanted to help us help others."

Rosenzweig returned to his Salt Lake home this past weekend as part of a contingent of local Red Cross volunteers who put their own lives on hold to help the countries ravaged by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in September that was followed by tsunami waves.

The group spent three weeks there and in just the first couple of days helped put up 1,600 yurt-style tents to provide the victims with temporary shelter.

They also brought along a bevy of food, including 20-pound bags of rice, tuna fish, noodles, milk and basic daily supplies such as diapers, towels, and sheets.

The volunteers worked side by side with villagers to attempt to restore some sense of normalcy.

Amid the 14-hour days, sleeping on cots and enduring the hot temperatures and relentless mosquitoes, Rosenzweig said he was struck most by the humble generosity of the villagers.

"They were in a tremendous amount of pain — they had loved ones killed, but they wanted most to help the people next to them … They are enormously wonderful people with good hearts."

Rosenzweig said he was inspired to become a Red Cross volunteer after Hurricane Katrina.

"I wanted to help — it got me into action."

He and his Red Cross colleagues meet each month to map out response strategies and train for emergencies, having seen firsthand that being prepared can help break or make a community when it comes to wide-scale disasters.

The spirit of the Red Cross, too, is what drives him, adding that it is a "pay it forward" philosophy.

"We know when the 7.6 earthquake comes to the Wasatch Front, our brothers and sisters in the Red Cross will be there for us."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Utah - American Samoa Red Cross News & Update

Red Cross Utah Region Volunteers Head Home from American Samoa

Disaster Relief Efforts and Call for Donations Still Underway

Salt Lake City, UTAH (Wednesday, October 21, 2009) -- It has been three weeks since an earthquake and tsunami devastated Samoa & American Samoa on September 29th, and the Red Cross is still on the scene helping the 2,000 people affected. Officials estimate it could be up to two years before power is fully restored. Many of the 11 disaster volunteers from the American Red Cross in Utah have completed their three-week deployment and are coming home from American Samoa this weekend. They performed a variety of tasks to help assist the disaster relief efforts. The volunteers spent their first few days distributing large, 6-man tents, or yurts, to families in the villages and taught the families how to assemble the yurts.

One Salt Lake City volunteer, Stan Rosenzweig, was in charge of distributing yurts and supplies. Stan comes home on Saturday and said, “We did it! We distributed the yurts, showed the families how to assemble them. Then we gave more than 1,000 local villagers large packages that contain 20 lb bags of rice, 3 lb packs of tuna fish, noodles, milk, crackers, baby formula, diapers, towels, sheets, pillows, flashlights, Red Cross comfort kits and bottled water.” Many of the volunteers put in 14-hour days and at night, they slept on cots in an outdoor shelter. The volunteers were uncomfortable thanks to hot days and lots of mosquitoes, but as Utah volunteer Kelly Hess said, “We are bug bitten and sweaty but it is all worth it. The people in the villages are so grateful for our help, they are wonderful.” Next week, Kelly will help to transition the people coming in to work on long term recovery. She returns to Utah on October 29th.

One group of volunteers right here in Utah helped remotely as well. This team led efforts to enter names onto the Red Cross Safe and Well website that helps families around the globe check the status of their loved ones in a disaster area. Remarkably, it was Red Cross volunteers from Utah who were on the ground in the villages collecting much of information that the team back home submitted online. All of these disaster relief efforts in American Samoa are made possible by donations from the American public to the Disaster Relief Fund. The call for donations is still underway and disaster relief efforts continue. To help: Donate at 1-800-RED-CROSS, or On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.

Halloween Safety Tips & Supplies

The American Red Cross in Utah urges all little ghouls and goblins out there to have a very happy and safe Halloween. Here are 13 safety tips for families to review and use.

· Map out the route that you plan to roam, so adults are assured you will find your way home!

· From the bravest of superheroes to the noblest of knights, everyone should remember to bring their flashlights!

· Accept treats at the door and, please, don’t go inside.

· When you get ready to put on your disguise, use face paint instead of masks, which will cover your eyes.

· Always remember, before you embark, to wear light-colored clothing to be seen in the dark! (And remember to use reflective tape, even on bikes, skateboards and brooms!)

· Whether you walk, slither or sneak, do it on the sidewalks and not in the street.

· As you roam through the neighborhood collecting your treats, please look both ways before crossing the street! (And cross from the corner!)

· Wigs, capes and costumes are flammable attire, so avoid open flames to prevent a fire!

· Use a glow stick instead of a candle so your jack-o-lantern isn’t a safety gamble!

· You may fly on a broom or a space ship from Mars, but please be on the lookout for drivers in cars! (And don’t hide between parked vehicles).

· Monsters and zombies should stay off the lawn, and only visit homes with their porch lights turned on!

· You may be dressed as a werewolf, a cat or a frog, but be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.

· Have a grown-up inspect your candy when you’re done trick-or-treating to remove open packages and choking hazards before eating.

For Halloween safety items like glow sticks & lanterns visit

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stan's Day in American Samoa

Stan's Blog from American Samoa
Stan is a Red Cross Disaster Volunteer for the Red Cross on Deployment in American Samoa

It ended up a great day with us giving out a lot of food to a lot of grateful people.

We staged the food to be delivered by trucks so we could hit the ground running at 2 pm, but at noon, there was a 6 point 2 earthquake 120 miles off our southern coast and everyone got the tsunami frights. So I called our Administrator and told him our local village Chief wanted us to make haste and start giving out the goodies so the villagers didn't have to wait until they were surfing their way to higher ground , which we did in an hour and a half. Then we were out of there.

When I returned, I learned that Hawaian Air had cancelled the Wednesday flight so we are all booked on the Thursday red eye out of here.

See you very soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

American Samoa: Married Volunteers Work Side by Side—Again

American Samoa: Married Volunteers Work Side by Side—Again

By Christi Harlan

In 40 years of marriage, Leonard Watts calculates that he’s spent no more than three weeks at a time away from his wife, Vicki. That’s why, he said, he and Vicki are on American Samoa with the American Red Cross—their eighth assignment together as volunteers in Red Cross disaster services.

“It’s enjoyable to have her around,” Leonard, 67, said in an interview from American Samoa, where he has been working with the mass care component of disaster services, acquiring supplies and repackaging them to help the families affected by the September 29th tsunami.

And, as a partner in a 40-year marriage, Vicki, 61, offered a slightly different take on working as a couple: “Sometimes it’s helpful; sometimes it’s not. Sometimes one of us can do something the other can’t. We like to help each other.”

On their first assignment together in northern Florida in September 2004, responding to Hurricane Francis—one of four hurricanes to strike Florida that year—Leonard’s commercial driving license earned him a place behind the wheel of an emergency response vehicle—the familiar red-and-white trucks that ply stricken neighborhoods, distributing food and water. On this job, while Leonard works in bulk distribution, Vicki has gone house to house in American Samoa, collecting information on family size and needs.

“The ones we’ve gone to have lost everything—their clothes are gone; their house is totally gone,” Vicki said. “Sometimes, the water was 10-feet high. Some of the families’ belongings were sucked back into the ocean; some were left in the house with mud.”

From their own home in Utah, Team Watts has traveled to Florida, New Jersey, Texas and, now, American Samoa. Leonard has become recognizable along the way for the big white cowboy hat he wears during his work for the American Red Cross.

The assignment to American Samoa “is the most different” of the couple’s assignments as Red Cross volunteers, Leonard said, but he’s not hanging up his hat: “We’ve done a lot,” he said. “We’d like to do a lot more.”

On that, Vicki was in 100 percent agreement: “We enjoy it. It’s a rewarding experience….We learn more and gain more than we put out.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

Southwest Airlines Delivers “Comfort” to Americans Displaced by Disasters
Partnership with American Red Cross will Help 10,000 People Nationwide

Salt Lake City, Utah (Monday, October 12, 2009) -- Southwest Airlines Employees in Salt Lake City have partnered with the American Red Cross to show their “LUV” to 10,000 people displaced by disasters across the nation. In an unprecedented show of support, the Dallas-based air carrier, currently headquartered at Love Field, encouraged Employees to ”Share the Spirit” by collecting, assembling and distributing “Comfort Kits” to Red Cross chapters in all 67 cities the airline serves. Here in Utah, Southwest Airlines Employees will drop off donated comfort kits to the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter office of the American Red Cross at 555 East 300 South Suite 200 at 10:00 am on Monday, October 12th.
Comfort kits are an essential part of a Red Cross disaster response, particularly those affected by a home fire, the most common type of disaster the Red Cross responds to on a daily basis. In Utah, the Red Cross responded to 114 disasters last year, most of them home fires but also wildfires, floods, landslides and evacuations. Utah is also at risk for a major earthquake.
“The Red Cross is grateful to the employees at Southwest Airlines for donating essential items that will help individuals affected by disasters,” said Red Cross Utah Region CEO Maxine Margaritis, “Often when we arrive on the scene of a disaster, we’re met by people who have nothing left except what they wore to bed. Being able to provide for their most basic and immediate needs, will truly bring comfort to the 10,000 people who receive these kits.”
The kits contain personal hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, combs, razors and more. The kits are often made available to people at Red Cross shelters.
“Southwest Airlines Employees work hard every day to do the right thing, share their spirit, and give generously of their time and their hearts,” said Linda Rutherford, Vice President of Communication and Strategic Outreach for Southwest Airlines. “We value our partnership with the Red Cross, and we know the vital role the Red Cross plays in helping people recover from disasters. We are honored to support their efforts.”
For more information on how to prepare for emergencies or to make a donation, please visit

About the American Red Cross, Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; teaches lifesaving skills; provides blood to 30 area hospitals; and supports military members and their families. The organization also provides emergency utility assistance and international family tracing services. The American Red Cross is a nonprofit organization, not a government funded agency, which depends entirely upon volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. Donate your time or resources to the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross by calling 801-323-7000 or visit

About Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is one of the most honored airlines in the world, consistently appearing on the FORTUNE Magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” list. After 37 years of service, Southwest Airlines, the nation’s leading low-fare carrier, continues to stand above other airlines—offering a reliable product with exemplary Customer Service. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) currently serves 68 cities in 34 states, and announced service to Milwaukee beginning Nov. 1, 2009. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,300 flights a day and has more than 35,000 Employees systemwide who work hard each and every day to provide excellent Customer service and make a difference in the community.. To learn more about how Southwest does the right thing visit

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Red Cross in Action
October 8, 2009
Several disasters have devastated communities in the U.S. and around the world over recent weeks—a reminder that disasters can strike at any time and with any frequency. Even before the disasters hit, American Red Cross staff and volunteers were preparing. Today, here in the States, we are providing people with a safe place to stay, a hot meal and a shoulder to lean on. Overseas, we are supporting our global Red Cross and Red Crescent partners as they work to meet the needs of earthquake, tsunami and typhoon survivors.
Our local, national and international work is made possible by the generous contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations. Their support of our Disaster Relief Fund and International Response Fund enables the American Red Cross to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

Current Disasters in the U.S.
The American Red Cross responds to disasters by providing immediate services like food, shelter and emotional support, in addition to bulk distribution of clean-up supplies, as well as individual casework to help people begin their road to recovery. In 2008 we responded to more than 130 large-scale disasters, providing more than 18 million meals, and opening more than 1,400 shelters—helping people when they need it the most. No matter when or where a hurricane, massive flood, earthquake or any other disaster strikes, the Red Cross is ready to respond immediately.

American Samoa Tsunami - 12 Utah Red Cross Volunteers On the Scene!  
* A powerful 8.0 magnitude Pacific Ocean earthquake spawned significant tsunami waves that swept ashore American Samoa on Sept. 29.
* Some coastal villages on the eastern and northern part of the island are destroyed, affecting thousands of residents.
* FEMA is reporting at least 32 deaths and many missing persons.
* Most of the communities affected are without water and power.
* Widespread damage to infrastructure is estimated to take more than 30 days to repair.
American Red Cross Response:
* More than 80 Red Cross disaster workers are currently on the ground in American Samoa. These disaster workers are trained to organize and help set up a local response, working with the over 100 local volunteers on the ground.
* FEMA and the Red Cross will be partnering to distribute food, water and supplies. More than 5,100 meals and snacks have been served in total. An additional shipment of culturally sensitive food arrived yesterday.
* Safe and Well is activated to facilitate communication between loved ones, hundreds of registrations have been collected so far.

Georgia and Tennessee Floods - 3 Utah Volunteers On the Scene
* Severe storms beginning on Sept. 21 led to flooding in many counties near Atlanta and in the northern part of the state.
* There are numerous power outages, road closures, uninhabitable homes and school district closings.
* Media reports at least nine deaths caused by the flooding.
* Federal disaster declaration issued on Sept 24 for 17 counties: Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Heard, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Stephens and Walker counties.
American Red Cross Response:
* Nearly 250 Red Cross disaster workers continue to operate shelters and provide relief items to emergency workers and affected residents. Simultaneously, the next phase of this operation has begun, including client casework and bulk distribution of clean-up supplies. In total, more than 800 Red Cross disaster workers supported these relief efforts.
* Shelter doors are open to welcome evacuees; as of Oct. 8th, the Red Cross has provided more than 3,700 overnight stays.
* Disaster workers in emergency response vehicles are delivering meals throughout affected communities and in shelters; as of Oct. 8th, the Red Cross has provided more than 109,000 meals and snacks.
* More than 7,800 clean-up and comfort kits were distributed to affected residents.
* As of Oct 8th, we estimate the cost for this relief effort to be $4–$4.4 million.

Current Disasters Overseas
When responding to a disaster overseas, the American Red Cross contributes to relief operations in three ways: deploying trained personnel; sending pre-positioned supplies from warehouses in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Panama; and offering financial assistance. Last fiscal year, the American Red Cross responded to crises in 33 countries, working with our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners around the world to help an estimated five million people.
Southeast Asia Typhoons and Floods
* Typhoon Ketsana hit areas of the Philippines on Sept. 26 with heavy rains and flooding in the capital city of Manila and northern areas of the country. The UN reports 295 deaths and more than 3.9 million people affected.
* Ketsana hit central and northern Vietnam on Sept. 29. The Government of Vietnam reports 170 deaths and approximately 3 million people affected.
* In both countries, Ketsana has created the worst flooding experienced in some areas for more than 40 years.
* Cambodia and Laos have also been affected, with the Lao Red Cross reporting 16 dead and more than 37,000 affected in that country.
* Typhoon Parma also affected the Philippines in the days after Typhoon Ketsana.
American Red Cross Response:
* The American Red Cross has committed $500,000 to meet emergency needs generated by the typhoon in Philippines and Vietnam, and stands ready to provide additional support, should it be requested.
* The American Red Cross continues to monitor the situation and remains in communication with our Red Cross partners in the area.
Pacific Islands Tsunami
* The Sept. 29 earthquake off the shores of American Samoa caused a destructive tsunami wave that struck Samoa and the island of Niuatoputapu in Tonga.
* Reports indicate that the wave that hit in Apia, Samoa was more than 2 feet high.
* Smaller earthquakes continue in the area.
* An early warning message was issued, and Apia was evacuated by police and Red Cross volunteers in advance of the tsunami with people sent to higher ground inland.
* The UN confirms 129 people dead, and a state of disaster has been declared by the Samoan government.
* Samoa Red Cross reports that up to 15,000 people affected.
* The Tongan government declared a state of emergency for Niuatoputapu, with a population of 1,400, and nine confirmed deaths.
American Red Cross Response:
* American Red Cross International Services is providing $100,000 toward the International Federation’s appeal for Samoa.
* The American Red Cross is monitoring the situation and is prepared to mobilize additional support, including relief supplies, trained personnel or financial assistance, if necessary.
West Sumatra Indonesia Earthquakes
* On Sept. 30, just after 5 p.m. local time, an earthquake, measuring 7.6, shook shook the Indonesian island of Sumatra, setting off a destructive chain of events—buildings caught fire, homes collapsed, airports closed, and residents and tourists became trapped.
* A second quake, measuring 6.6 magnitude, struck October 8, but did less damage.
* The two earthquakes combined, left more than 1,100 dead and thousands more trapped. In Padang alone, at least 500 homes have been destroyed.
* Search and rescue efforts continue to recover those buried under the rubble.
American Red Cross Response:
* The American Red Cross has committed at least $500,000 to meet emergency needs created by the earthquakes.
* The American Red Cross is monitoring the situation and remains in communication with our Red Cross partners in the area.
How You Can Help
To Help Nationally, Make a Financial Gift to the Disaster Relief Fund -
Help people affected by disasters like the recent earthquakes and floods, by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for disasters and provide shelter, food counseling and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting <> .
To Help Internationally, Make a Financial Gift to the International Response Fund – Help the victims of countless crises around the world each year, crises like the flooding and typhoons in Southeast Asia and the earthquakes in Indonesia, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting <> .
To learn more about the work of American Red Cross in the U.S. and around the world, please visit <> .

Red Cross office in Salt Lake City

Your local Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has moved. We are now located just a few blocks away at 555 East and 300 South in Salt Lake City. Suite 200.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to donate to Western Samoa and American Samoa. Give to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund AND the International Response Fund. Both funds need dollars right now. This is the best way people can help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami there.