By Megan Mrozek, Regional Disaster Officer, American Red Cross Minnesota Region
During 2014, a year when disasters were not major headlines in Minnesota, our region’s Disaster Cycle Services team was hard at work. The team responded to 716 disasters and delivered humanitarian aid to more than 1,104 families, helped prepare 22,180 people for emergencies, and trained to make sure we’re ready to respond to disasters big and small here in Minnesota and, when needed, across the nation. Highlights of our year include:
- Cedar-Riverside Apartment Fire: Response teams worked with people in the affected community with recovery immediately after the fire and preparedness throughout year.
- Round-Tables: We started monthly response and recovery round-tables with disaster leaders across the state, sharing best practices and lessons learned from responses throughout the region.
- DAT Captain Training: We established an initiative to refine and develop the role of Disaster Action Team (DAT) captains, culminating in new training simulation for disaster response captains in December.
- Casework for DATs: We implemented a training course that enables Disaster Action Team members to help clients begin their recovery immediately after a disaster.
- Leadership Summit: Around 100 disaster leaders came together for two days of training, team building, and direction-setting for the year to come.
- Board Preparedness Challenge: 100% of our regional board members took an action to become more prepared for emergencies.
- CAS 2.0: We rolled out the new CAS 2.0 database for recovery information, as well as new forms and procedures for response and recovery.
- Latino Community Partnership and Leadership Summit: We held our first partnership and leadership summit with Latino community leaders and advocates in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area.
- Under One Roof: Co-sponsored the “Under One Roof” sheltering conference that included 250 participants from 5 states and Canada. Fifty-four Red Crossers attended. Our conference mission was to establish new relationships, to strengthen sustainable partnerships, and to learn about the latest developments, trends, and best practices related to sheltering and emergency preparedness.
- June and July:
- Flooding Response: On the US-Canadian border, 66 Red Cross volunteers served 1058 meals and 27,116 snacks; distributed 85 clean up kits; and provided 23 health services contacts to flood affected communities in 13 counties. In addition, disaster relief workers responded to flooding relief efforts in the Twin Cities metro area and southwest Minnesota.
- National Night Out: On this night, more than 1600 people were reached with preparedness messages from their neighbors.
- Vigilant Vortex: At least 50 Red Cross workers took part in a 5-day, statewide exercise with the Minnesota National Guard and more than 30 other agencies practicing response to an epic string of devastating tornado touchdowns.
- Minnesota State Fair: This year at the fair, 2,735 people completed disaster preparedness plans. Also, 12,876 people were reached through preparedness planning and blood pressure screening.
- North Star Disaster Training Institute: Our signature, annual disaster training program included 39 courses offered to 160 attendees during a 4-day period.
- Shelters Mobilized: Disaster relief teams mobilized two shelters for people displaced by disaster in the Twin Cities and Marshall, MN.
- Statewide Meet-Up: For the first time, our former southern and northern region teams came together as the new combined Minnesota Region team.
I am incredibly thankful for the tireless effort from our Disaster Cycle Services volunteers and employees. Day and night, 365 days-a-year, they bring compassion, flexibility, and dedication to the important work of helping others during great times of need and making our communities more resilient before, during, and after emergencies. Here’s to 2015!
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