Return From Landslide In Washington Brings New Perspective

By Brian Shawn, Dakotas Region Communications Officer

The landslide destroyed 30 homes in the Oso, Washington area.

After spending over a week in Washington as a part of the team that is assisting those affected by the Oso Landslide relief efforts, it certainly opens up your eyes. As a member of the American Red Cross, I am well aware of the work we do, but I had not experienced it first-hand on the ground at a major disaster area. Now that I have, it changed my perspective. I have seen the difference people can make by providing comfort and support.

This terrible disaster, like most disasters, took people by complete surprise in this area. The surrounding communities of Darrington and Arlington are very tight-knit and this is clearly a difficult time. What amazed me most is just how resilient the people are and how they have rallied around each other to support those who have lost or are missing loved ones.

The Red Cross sent over 400 workers (87% volunteers) to help and I got to be a part of it. I was on the Public Affairs team that got to work with local/national media, updates social media, and assist with messaging/photos/video from the ground to show how we are helping.

About a 1/4 mile north of the slide site near Darrington, Washington.

But the the most important piece of this response has been emotional support. Dozens of mental health volunteers, who are professionally trained, have spent numerous hours meeting with community members and responders who continue to search the scene. It has been physically and mentally taxing for all of them.

The efforts over the past two weeks have been remarkable but a lot of work still needs to be done. This response will continue for many weeks and months as the recovery process begins.

Just know that disaster can happen anywhere at any time. Be prepared and know there are people out there who will help when you need it.

Red Cross Announces 2014 ‘Rooms For Red Cross’ Partners

Hotel Partners Participating In The 2014 ‘Rooms For Red Cross’ Program.

Last year, the American Red Cross responded to nearly 200 disaster calls in the region, many of them leaving people without a place to live. Red Cross volunteers respond to house/apartment fires most often, leaving many families homeless unexpectedly.

The ‘Rooms For Red Cross’ campaign plays a key role in helping disaster victims get back on their feet and give them a warm place to stay. In addition, these rooms will be used on occasion for military personnel in need of lodging during an emergency situation.

“We are so proud to be a part of this program,” said April Eskelson, Sales Manager at the Hilton Garden Inn, Fargo. “Providing a warm place to stay for those that need it means a great deal to us.”

22 hotels in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area have come together to donate over 180 rooms for 2013. These rooms will go to those in need throughout the calendar year.

Participating hotels include: Airport/Dome Days Inn, AmericInn Lodge & Suites, Arbuckle Lodge, Best Western Doublewood Inn, Best Western Plus Kelly Inn & Suites, Candlewood Suites, Courtyard by Marriott Fargo-Moorhead, Days Inn Fargo West Acres, Fargo Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Howard Johnson Inn, Kelly Inn 13th Avenue, Mainstay Suites, Radisson Hotel, Ramada Plaza & Suites, Red Roof Inn, Rodeway Inn, Staybridge Suites, Super 8 Motel & Suites, and the Wingate by Windham.

“We simply cannot thank these lodging partners enough,” said Judy Green, Red Cross Regional CEO. “Their willingness to partner with the Red Cross on this initiative is critical for our mission of assisting those affected by disaster.”

Red Cross Issues Safety Tips to Prevent Holiday Home Fires

The American Red Cross urges residents to take extra precautions with cooking and decorating around the holidays.

 Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, and as people are cooking, entertaining, and stringing lights this holiday season, we’re urging that they take safety measures to ensure that their homes and loved ones are safe from the threat of fire,” said Regional Disaster Service Director, Tom Tezel.

 Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving are the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster on average every eight minutes, and the vast majority of them are home fires.


The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to prevent home fires around the holidays:

Holiday Entertaining

  • Test your smoke alarms.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.

Holiday Decorating

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

People can test their knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking the Fire Safety Quiz!

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit

Red Cross/State Farm Winter Survival Kit Promotion Comes To An End

The Dakotas Region of the American Red Cross ‘Winter Survival Kit’ promotion sponsored by State Farm® has come to a close. Close to free 100 kits have been distributed across the region to those that registered to win.

Over 8,000 people signed up to win a winter survival kit throughout the states of North Dakota/Northwestern Minnesota. It was promoted and winners were announced by all the NBC affiliates (KFYR, KMOT, KVLY) in North Dakota. Technical support for this promotion was provided by Onsharp.

Our partnership is truly a natural fit because the American Red Cross is in the business of saving lives, and State Farm is in the business of protecting families in much the same way,” said State Farm Public Affairs Specialist, Kelly Savage. “We’re glad to have such a trusted and well-recognized partner to assist us in educating families about the need to plan and prevent losses and are proud to support the Ready Dakota contest.”

This is the third year State Farm and the Red Cross have partnered to inform the public on preparedness and winter safety throughout the region. Almost 43,000 people in the region were prepared by the Red Cross in Fiscal Year 2013.

“This promotion and partnership has greatly helped raise preparedness awareness in the communities across our region,” said Red Cross Regional CEO, Judy Green. “We appreciate the support of our sponsors.”

More information on preparedness can be found on

Red Cross Responds To Water Issue In Fairmount, ND

The Dakotas Region of the American Red Cross provided water for 400 people in the community of Fairmount, ND after two wells supplying the area stopped functioning.

Red Cross volunteers delivered approximately 3,500 bottles of water to the community to assist county and city officials and arranged for more water to be delivered in the community for all citizens to pick-up at city hall.

Officials placed a water restriction on all community members and urged them to boil all water on a stove before using it for cooking or drinking.

“We have been working with all the city and county officials to provide support for the community of Fairmount,” said Disaster Program Manager, Sean Coffman. “Certainly in a situation like this, making sure people are cared for is the first priority.”

Red Cross Responds to Apartment Fire In Minot, ND

American Red Cross staff and volunteers responded to a large apartment fire in Minot. Fortunately, the building had not yet opened to residents so no families were displaced. However, the fire required a significant response from first responders and firefighters in the community.

Red Cross personnel provided food, water, and hot beverages for all that responded to the fire and also provided essentials for any others evacuated from nearby buildings until the blaze was under control.

“It is awfully cold outside for all the individuals that are either fighting this fire or any others that were evacuated from nearby buildings,” said Minot Red Cross Community Chapter Executive, Allan McGeough. “We’re glad to provide food and a warm beverage for them.”

Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster every nine minutes. For the latest updates from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Northwest Minnesota, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Red Cross Responds To Grain Bin Fire in Kensal, ND

Two crews from the American Red Cross responded to a grain elevator fire in Kensal, North Dakota today after five fire departments around the area responded. Two crews of volunteers were on the scene providing food and hydration for firefighters.

“It’s cold out here and I know the firefighters appreciate having us out here to help warm them up,” said Jeff Gainsforth, a Red Cross volunteer that responded. “It’s been a long battle with this fire as they try to get to it.”

For more information on responses around the region, follow the Red Cross on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@RedCrossDakotas).

American Red Cross Offers Thanksgiving Cooking and Travel Tips

Millions of Americans will be preparing meals and traveling throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The American Red Cross has safety tips for the kitchen and for the highway.

 “More home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year,” said Dakotas Region CEO,Judy Green. “The week of Thanksgiving is also one of the busiest travel periods. We want people to arrive at their destinations, enjoy time with their loved ones and make it home safely.”

 COOKING SAFETY Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and related injuries. Follow these safety tips:

  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the cooking area.
  • Clean all cooking surfaces to prevent grease buildup.
  • Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. Turn burners off if leaving the kitchen.
  • Keep a pan lid or baking sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire.
  • Place turkey fryers outside and away from the house, deck and garage.

TRAVEL SAFETY Vehicles should be in good working order before heading out. Remember to:

  • Pack emergency supplies like blankets, water and snacks, flashlight and first aid kit.
  • Fill the fuel tank, check air pressure in tires and top-off windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up and obey all traffic signs.
  • Avoid distractions while driving like using mobile phones to talk or text.
  • Designate a driver who won’t be drinking whenever alcohol is served.

The Red Cross has a variety of emergency supplies and first aid kits available at

KNOW HOW TO TREAT EMERGENCIES People can learn how to respond to emergencies by downloading the free American Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice whenever and wherever they need it. The app is availablein the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossdakotas.

The Red Cross ‘Personal Survival Kit’ Giveaway Is Here!


The Red Cross is once again partnering with State Farm for the ‘Personal Survival Kit’ Giveaway! Be prepared and stay safe!

The American Red Cross-Dakotas Region is once again starting up its ‘Personal Survival Kit’ Promotional Giveaway, sponsored by State Farm Insurance! 93 Personal Survival Kits will be given away, starting on November 25th and ending December 13th!

30 kits will be given away in eastern North Dakota, 30 in southwestern North Dakota, and 30 more in northwestern North Dakota on Valley News Live, KFYR-TV, and KMOT-TV! These personal survival kits include: a Red Cross Drawstring Bag, Emergency Water Pouches, Dust Mask, First-Aid Kit, Tissue Packet, Whistle, Poncho, Light stick, AM/FM Radio, AAA Batteries, Flashlight, AA Batteries, High Calorie Bar, Stocking Cap, Winter Gloves, Hand Warmers, Socks, and a Mylar Blanket.

To sign up, log on to and sign up! You can only sign up once a day to be eligible. Signing up more than once a day will not enhance your chances of winning.

In addition to the 90 kits given away through our television partners, 3 extra kits (one a week) will be given away through our Facebook Contest! Sign up for an extra chance to win! All of the technical support and digital marketing for this project has been provided by Onsharp!

Thanks to all our partners for their help and support of this project. We are excited for another year with this promotional giveaway.

If you aren’t one of the lucky winners, these survival kits can be purchased at your local Mac’s Hardware Store! They make great Christmas presents!

Red Cross Partnering With Facebook To Help Those Afftected in the Philippines

For the next few days, Facebook is making it possible for users to donate directly to the American Red Cross either through a notification in News Feed, or directly on our national Facebook page. We’re excited and grateful that they are activating this feature to support the massive global response effort following the impact of Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines this past week.

If you visit your Facebook News Feed, you will see this at the top of the screen:


Clicking Donate $10.00 will bring you to a simple payment screen, where you will be asked for your payment information (Facebook will retain this information for any future Facebook purchases – see below for more info).

Just follow the simple directions to complete the donation, and you’re done!

If you’d like to give a different amount, you can also visit the American Red Cross Facebook Page to make a donation.


100% of the funds raised through Facebook will go to the American Red Cross. All of the donations will be provided by the American Red Cross to the Red Cross groups that are working on the typhoon response. The Philippine Red Cross has been leading this response effort, aiding with search and rescue immediately after the disaster, providing shelter, food, and water, and distributing relief supplies. However, as we mentioned earlier, this has truly been a global response effort. Specialized emergency response teams from Red Cross societies across the globe are moving into the affected area to assist. These include teams with expertise in logistics, disaster assessment, shelter, health, water and sanitation.