Thursday, September 7, 2017

Restoring Family Links after a Hurricane

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - Now that Hurricane Irma has impacted the islands in the Caribbean we know that people are concerned about loved ones that they may have lost contact with. Here is some information that might be helpful when searching for those people.
Keep calling, sending text messages and trying to connect via email or social media; calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines.

Contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person.

Situation Overview

The islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten (Dutch territory) as well as the islands of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy (French territory) have been hit by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 leaving widespread damage. The communications infrastructure on the islands has been heavily damaged.

Restoring Family Links Response

The Dutch territories of Saba, St Eustatius, and St Maarten, fall within the jurisdiction of the Netherlands Red Cross. The Netherlands Red Cross has launched a Safe and Well website:

The Safe and Well website facilitates communication from inside the disaster-affected areas to family members outside the disaster areas. 

The Netherlands Red Cross is actively engaged in assisting individuals on the islands to register on the site as ‘Safe and Well’. Inquirers must provide the sought person’s name and the sought person’s address or phone number in order to search the list of those who have self-registered and view any "safe and well" messages that they may have left for their loved-ones. The website is available in English and Dutch. At the present time, the Netherlands Red Cross is not able to conduct active tracing on the ground, and therefore traditional tracing inquiries are NOT accepted at this time.

The French territories of St Martin and St Barthelemy fall within the jurisdiction of the French Red Cross. At the present time, Tracing inquiries are NOT accepted. For the time being, please advise inquirers concerned about relatives on St Martin or St Barthelemy to contact the French authorities at +331 82 71 03 37.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens (on foreign land, i.e. US Citizen in Cuba) should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 and

Inquiries concerning U.S. territory (i.e. USVI, Puerto Rico, continental USA, etc.) should be referred to American Red Cross Safe and Well website. Website: Individuals can search for loved ones based upon entering 2 of 3 components (Full Name AND Phone Number OR Address). In the event that the sought person may be part of vulnerable population, a health and welfare check can potentially be initiated.

Domestic Disaster Emergency Welfare Inquiry and Family Reunification Request can be invoked, especially for vulnerable populations, please see for forms to invoke a Welfare Inquiry. Vulnerable can include, but not limited to: health concerns; mental health concerns; mobility concerns; unaccompanied minors; and elderly. The form must be completed and submitted by Red Cross so contact you local Red Cross chapter.

Remember to keep calling, sending text messages and trying to connect via email or social media; calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines. Try to contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person.

During a disaster the free Red Cross mobile app, Emergency, can help you stay in touch with family and loved ones. Download the app from or your preferred app vendor.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Responding to the Call for Disaster Relief - Hurricane Irma

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - Hurricane Irma continues to move toward Florida with landfall on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Red Cross has already mobilized equipment, supplies and disaster responders at a staging area in Orlando, FL.
Noon MDT 090617 from NOAA/National Hurricane Center

While nearly 70 disaster responders from Colorado and Wyoming have been deployed to the Texas Gulf Coast for Hurricane Harvey Relief, we have also deployed ten of our disaster responders to the Orlando staging area ahead of Hurricane Irma landfall. The Red Cross is mobilizing hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers and deploying truckloads of relief supplies to support this response effort. Shelter supplies for 120,000 people are on the way to help people impacted with Irma, along with 100,000 shelf-stable meals and almost 80 emergency response vehicles.

In addition to those listed below the following volunteers are heading to Florida:
From Southeastern Colorado
Keith Mercantel - Shelter Supervisor
Gregory Adkins - Shelter Worker
Cathleen Smith - Shelter Worker
John Hartling - Shelter Worker

From Northern Colorado
Sierra Horner - Shelter Worker
Christy Lard - Shelter Worker
Donald Nelson -  Shelter Worker

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate their donation to Hurricane Irma relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on or on 1-800-RED CROSS. The best way to ensure your donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. We also recommend completing and mailing the donation form on with your check

If you have people in Florida that you are concerned about you can advise them to download the Red Cross mobile app, Emergency. Using the app can help you stay in contact with those people in Florida. You can also get near realtime information concerning the Hurricane by using the free Emergency app. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

To get updates on Hurricane Irma and the Red Cross response visit

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - Even while our disaster response is in full swing in Texas with over 3,000 responders on the ground in the disaster zone, our teams are gearing up to support relief efforts, should they be needed with Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma forecast track from Sep 5, 2017
Courtesy NOAA/NHC
Hurricane Irma went up to a category 5 hurricane Sunday night and most recent forecasts have the
storm moving across the Florida Keys this weekend. Our disaster responders are already being put on standby so that they are ready to move quickly if the forecast track proves true.

Four disaster responders from Colorado are packing bags for deployment. They will travel to Orlando that is serving as a staging area for Red Cross deployments:

Southeastern Colorado
Douglas Van Allen - Sheltering Supervisor
Delbert Hayden - Shelter worker

Northern Colorado
David West - Shelter worker

Western Colorado
Jenny Roberts - Shelter worker

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wonderful Day of Giving

Support from local media and TeleTech came together Wednesday when a telephone fundraiser was held to raise money to support the Red Cross response to Hurricane Harvey.
The event was coordinated by Katherine Schaefer, Events Manager for the Colorado and Wyoming Red Cross. The effort began on Monday with discussions and coordination and it all came together Wednesday at the TeleTech Corporate Center in Englewood, CO.
All day on Wednesday our team of 150 volunteers, both Red Cross and corporate/private volunteers, answered 3,574 calls raising a total of $260,000. That amount was matched by corporate donations of $245,000 to result in a grand total of $505,000 all earmarked for supporting the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.
TeleTech, an international call center corporation, provided the facility and call lines for the event. They also provided close to 75 volunteers. Also taking calls Hikmet Ersek, CEO for Western Union, to answer the out-pouring of support for the Red Cross. Volunteers were also provided by the Avalanche Hockey Team, The Nuggets Basketball Team, Barber-Nichols, Level3, Davis, Graham & Stubbs, Anadarko, Western Union Foundation, DCP Midstream, Littleton Public Schools and Centurylink.
There was an air of excitement and adrenaline as call takers accepted the calls. At times it was competitive as Colorado Avalanche Wing Matt Neito and Defenseman Erik Johnson came and answered calls at the Red Cross Telethon. They were competitive in their fund raising. Matt was getting pledges of $5-$10, while Erik was getting $100-$200 donations. At this moment Matt is listening to Erik take a $100 phone call. He turned around and said incredulously; "Seriously Dude! Another $100?"

Torrey Craig(R) with Rocky (L) and
our own Josette Valdez-Negley at TeleTech
Nuggets basketball player Torrey Craig and Rocky the mascot helped excite everyone. Torrey expressed his concern for the people impacted by Hurricane Harvey and was pleased when he saw the compassion demonstrated by the many donations.

Colorado First Lady Robin Hickenlooper joined in the festivities to added credence to the effort and to express her concerns for the people suffering along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Corporate support played a big role in this effort providing $245,000 matching funds. Much of the matching funds were generated from employee giving.
Western Union - $100, 000
CDHP - $70,000
DCP Midstream - $50,000
Liberty Oilfield Services - $25,000

Western Union Foundation Executive Director, Elizabeth Roscoe was on hand to help with the telethon and said, "This is great to see and we are happy to be a part of something that will help the people that have suffered so much."

Probably the single most influential participants were local Denver media who alerted their viewers to the challenge being faced by the Red Cross and encouraged donors to call in. Big thanks to:

KDVR, KMGH, FOX31, Telemundo and CBS4 for televising the event with frequent cut-ins during their newscasts. Also KOA Radio was on hand to help promote the event. We could see a surge in calls every time a news broadcast happened.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Swimming for 50 Years for Red Cross

Story and Photos by Stefani Madison/American Red Cross

It isn't every day you have the privilege of meeting someone with Karen Drake's sense of dedication
Karen Drake, 50 years of Service.
and passion for her work. Since 1967 she has been teaching, year round, water safety and life saving classes.

In 1962, Nebraska farm kids Karen and her brother would walk to school. Their path would take them over an irrigation canal, but before they were allowed to cross the canal, their mother ordered them to learn to swim in the event one of them fell into the water. Karen learned quickly, fell in love with swimming, and has been at it ever since.

Becoming a certified water safety instructor in 1967, Karen began teaching students in Westminster, Colorado. Students ranged from young children to adults, and a number of her teenage and older students went on to become certified instructors as well. In 1968, Karen moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, put down roots and has never left.

During the winter, when public schools are in session, Karen takes her young students to The Old Town Pool, where hot springs keep the water comfortably warm. There, for Physical Education classes, she teaches students to swim and to learn water safety. In the summer, she adds water safety instructor classes to her routine, certifying new instructors and re-certifying instructors who need to maintain currency in lifesaving and water safety skills.
Karen Drake (L) receives recognition plaque from
Eric Myers, Executive Director for Red Cross
of Western Colorado

This has been her vocation for an astonishing fifty years.

On August 23rd, to honor Karen's dedication, Eric Myers, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Western Colorado, presented Karen with a lovely plaque of appreciation for her devotion and hard work. According to Eric, this was only the second fifty-year award he's had the pleasure of presenting. In addition to the plaque, Karen received a letter of thanks and congratulations from Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross.

When Eric asked the question we were all curious to have answered - how many lives might have been saved by life savers and water safety graduates of Karen's classes - she smiled and replied that there was simply no way of knowing. She surmised that the number could be many, and when even one life saved is precious, 'many' lives saved is momentous.

Following the brief award ceremony and a group photo of Karen with several of her graduates, she was kind enough to provide Eric with a tour of the facility and its many pools. Some pools were dedicated for children's swimming lessons, some for older adults and yet others for her water safety courses and for public enjoyment. During her tour, several of her former students congratulated her for her recognition with smiles and hugs. It was plain to see the affection and respect she has earned over the years by her hard work and dedication. When asked if she had plans for retiring, or even slowing down, she said simply, "No."

If you are interested in learning more about the Red Cross Water Safety program please visit our website at