Halloween Life Savers (Not the Candy)

The McGraths

Halloween was a little different for me this year. My husband, son and I spent the day with firemen from Engine House No. 32 of the St. Louis Fire Department in the Tower Grove East neighborhood, installing smoke alarms and educating residents on home fire safety. This was part of a national home fire campaign to increase the number of working smoke alarms in homes across America.

Halloween Smoke Alarm Installation Event

Stanley King is one of the residents who called the Red Cross to request a smoke detector. A widower in his late eighties, Stanley couldn’t reach the existing smoke detectors in his home to test them. He wasn’t sure they were working. The firemen quickly determined they weren’t working and replaced them with new ones that last for 10 years, with no need to change any batteries. While they were installing the alarms, I talked to Stanley about the importance of making an escape plan so that he would know exactly what to do in case of a fire, no matter where he might be in his house. We also reviewed a home safety checklist and talked about what to do during a tornado.

We visited nine homes on Saturday with the firemen. Several of the homes were occupied by older single women and some had multi-generational families in them. One house had five children living in it and it was clear that the family was living in poverty, just barely getting by. There were no working smoke detectors in the house and the kids didn’t have an escape plan. So we installed three alarms and I talked to the kids about fire safety.

kid smoke alarm

Every home we visited on Halloween needed smoke alarms but couldn’t afford them. It was very satisfying to know that the few hours we spent installing alarms and educating people could one day save a life. The folks we met were attentive, interested in home safety and grateful for this special Halloween treat.

To our Friends at the Red Cross …


Cooper County Fire Protection District
P.O. Box 126, Boonville, MO 65233
Office:660-882-6111 Fax: 660-882-2482 E-Mail: ccfpd@iland.net


American Red Cross
Heart of Missouri Chapter
1511 S.Providence Rd.
Columbia, MO 65203

To our friends at the Red Cross,

On August 29, 2015, the Cooper County Fire Protection District was dispatched to a structure fire in the City of Bunceton. As units arrived, they quickly determined that the Missouri Better Bean Facility fire was not going to be our typical structure fire. Multiple explosions, hazardous materials and extreme fire conditions led to the immediate decision to ask for assistance from our neighboring fire departments.

Before the fire was extinguished, thirteen additional departments answered the call with a total of 65 fire fighters making a stand against the fire. Over 200,000 gallons of water and nearly 100 gallons of foam were needed to bring the fire under control.

In firefighting, clean up, re-supplying and refurbishing trucks and equipment, we spent a total of eleven exhaustive hours of that day on the Missouri Better Bean Facility fire.

Through it all, the Red Cross was there handing out cold drinks and food. There was so much food, that we had some left over for us to eat after the work was completed back at the station.

I don’t even know who requested your services that day, but I can’t express enough the gratitude we all have for you.

The fire fighters of the Cooper County Fire Protection District and the citizens of Bunceton want to thank you for your service that day and every day that you seem to show up just when you are needed the most.

David Gehm Fire Chief
Cooper County FPO

Thank you once again:
Bill Anderson
Debbie Wetzig
Terry Wetzig
Tom Shands

Save the World: Make Missing Maps

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 11 months, I don’t need to remind you that it’s been a rough year around the globe. I hear news of natural disasters, conflict, and disease outbreaks on the radio every morning… sometimes before I’ve even had my first cup of tea. It can be overwhelming. But there is good news, too. People halfway around the world can help emergency responders and even prevent disasters from happening in the first place. How? By making maps. Updated maps can expedite the delivery of emergency supplies, determine where help is needed most, and even track the spread of diseases like Ebola. But right now, maps of the world’s most vulnerable communities just don’t exist. They’re nowhere to be found. A bunch of people (mappers and non-mappers alike) are getting together to fill in these “missing maps” before the next disaster strikes in these communities. The results can be lifesaving. Liberia1

Here’s why:

As the world continues to urbanize, one billion people—1/7th of the world’s population—now live in urban slums. Cities often lack sufficient infrastructure to support the impromptu settlements that have sprung up around the world. Overcrowding, poorly built dwellings, and inadequate infrastructure has left hundreds of millions of people in an increased position of vulnerability to disaster and disease. When fires break out or earthquakes hit these areas, it’s really difficult for emergency responders to know who needs help. When Ebola starts spreading, it’s hard to track the virus if epidemiologists can’t conceptualize where towns are located. Sometimes, it’s impossible for help to even make it to the site of a disaster because there are no maps to guide the way.

Here’s how:

The Missing Maps Project brings volunteers together from around the world to fill in the gaps. On Friday, November 7 volunteers will use their own computers to trace existing satellite imagery to create maps of vulnerable communities. With numbers on our side, we can make a huge dent in the missing maps. And when disasters do strike, emergency responders will no longer have to play a guessing game to reach those in need.

We know it will work because we did it for West Africa, when more than 2,000 virtual mappers from over 100 countries made 10 million edits in OpenStreetMap over the last six-months. These contributions allow humanitarian organizations to track the Ebola virus and figure out which areas need the most help. This volume of work would have taken a professional mapper six to eight years to complete.

You can help!

Join a mapathon in your area on November 7 or another date in the nearby future. You can also contribute remotely any day of the week. Missing Maps is a collaboration the American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders-UK, and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

See more at: http://redcrosschat.org/2014/11/06/save-the-world-make-missing-maps/#sthash.cd9ATg5R.WHUNDjeA.dpuf

“Life Changing” Work in Nepal

by Anne Reynolds

Anne was deployed as part of a joint American Red Cross/Danish Emergency Relief Unit to help support distribution of cash and relief items following the earthquake in Nepal. 

Nepal has always been a place that I wanted to visit, but until now I had never made the trip. Like most Red Crossers, when I saw the devastation following the earthquakes, I felt the strong desire to help. Thankfully, I have the great privilege to make that desire reality as an American Red Cross International Disaster Services Roster Member.

(Pictured: Anne with some of the recipients of Red Cross distributions.)

I deployed to Nepal on June 21, and after a few days in Kathmandu, I headed out to the Makwanpur District. Makwanpur is located just 1.5 hours from the border with India, and encompasses very diverse topography. The area ranges in altitude from just over 500 feet above sea level to over 8,000 feet above sea level. There are a number of rivers running through the district and the roads in and around the area can be quite treacherous. Inevitably there is always a section of the winding, narrow, switch-back road that has experienced at least a small landslide. The blind curves cause the drivers to honk constantly, and we are always on alert. No Sunday driving here!

The district headquarters, Hetauda, is a small but bustling city, and I have been working primarily from the Nepal Red Cross Chapter headquarters here. The local Red Cross staff is simply amazing! Our goal is to reach 2,000 households with full NFRI kits, cash and hygiene kits. In the 15 days I have been here, we have managed to meet with the local government officials for all the areas where distributions will occur, coordinate and agree on beneficiary lists, conduct a 10 percent audit to ensure we are reaching the most impacted areas, secure distribution sites, conduct distribution training for 25 local staff, and successfully complete two distributions in which 380 beneficiaries were served. Beneficiaries have been so happy to receive items, and we have experienced no negative responses. The staff is proud of their accomplishments, and they are feeling confident about their ability to establish distribution sites and conduct distributions. This week, we are moving to a municipality known as Thaha, and will provide items and cash to over 1,500 more households. The local staff has really got the system down, and we are confident we can reach over 300 beneficiaries per day.

My experience in Makwanpur has been truly exceptional. I have been fully embraced by my Nepal Red Cross family, and they have shown me nothing but kindness, generosity and appreciation since the day I arrived.  I had always heard about the kindness of the Nepali people, and I can now say firsthand it is so very true. I feel like I have really been “living” here in Nepal, not just visiting. The work has been hard, the days tiring, but I have enjoyed great friendship, and Nepalese food, daily. I have replaced my daily coffee routine with my new favorite – milk tea! It is a special blend made here in town, and my friends here ask me all day long if I want more. I must admit, I say yes probably too often.

Words cannot accurately describe the special place Nepal and my new family in Makwanpur will forever hold in my heart. This has not been just a mission for me, but rather a life-changing experience for which I will be eternally grateful.

– See more at: http://redcrosschat.org/2015/07/23/life-changing-work-nepal/#sthash.kunLTOgO.WEhoLFiE.dpuf

Hillview, IL Flooded After Levy Breach

Hillview4 Hillview Hillview2 Hillview3

Hillview, Illinois, population 50, flooded when Hurricane Creek breached the levy protecting the small community.  As rescuers picked up five people by boat, water to the town was shut off. Residents needed assistance.

Although a very small community, volunteers with the American Red Cross traveled to Hillview to provide dinner for those affected by the floods.  Thanks to Brother Jason of Hillview Southern Baptist Church, residents had a dry spot to rest and eat hot meals provided by the Red Cross. Our volunteers also supplied drinking water.

“The people of Hillview know the American Red Cross is there for them when they need them the most,” said Hillview Mayor Arthur Long.

Mayor Long, says their town has had a long-standing relationship with the American Red Cross dating back to 1993.  “I know the people of Hillview are thankful for the Red Cross being here tonight, just like they were in 1993,” said Long.

A dozen people made their way through the flood waters to the church for a warm meal, something to drink and companionship.