Showing how much has to be done

Photo credit: John Decker/American Red Cross

The photo above, sent from one of our Red Cross volunteers, captures a tiny fraction of the sandbags being used to fight back water rising in the Rainy River watershed (and others) across northern Minnesota since last Friday. These sandbags are filled by community volunteers: families, students, neighbors and out-of-towners. They get thirsty, they get hungry and they get blisters. So, we’re there supporting them with hydration and snacks as well as basic health services – we’re helping the helpers! We’ve been working primarily in International Falls (Koochiching County) and doing deliveries to Lake Kabetogama and surrounding areas (Northern St. Louis County).


By end of day today, we’ll have provided since last Friday:

💧 Bottled water: 3,288

✔️ Powerade/Gatorade/BodyArmor: 1,370

🍿 Snacks: 1,942

🍊 Fruit: 392

🚚 Remote distribution of Salvation Army meals: 60 meals

🤕 First aid services at sandbagging location: 96

Many thanks to the great groups below, and to all of our amazing partners, for supporting the flood response – Boise Paper/PCA, Walmart in Virginia, MN, United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, Coca Cola Bottling of International Falls, International Falls Hockey Arena, and Cub Foods Duluth. You’re the best! 🤩

“That” season is here

Red Cross flooding clean-up kits in Minneapolis. Photo by Jill Hallonquist.

It’s officially “that” season as we unload Flood Clean-up Kits at the Minneapolis Red Cross office. Those pictured above will head to Carver and Scott Counties. More will go to Ramsey County and other places soon. Many more will stay here in our warehouse for distribution to individuals and our partners who will be helping others during this spring flood season.

For example, we partnered with Scott County Emergency Management to open a shelter for people who evacuated their homes in a community in Jordan.  Local Red Cross volunteers arrived quickly to set up cots and other shelter necessities. We’ll continue to be there until the need passes.

Red Cross volunteers at the shelter for flooding evacuees in Jordan, Minnesota, March 15, 2019. Photo provided by Jennifer P.

This is going to be a huge response not only in Minnesota, but also in many parts of the country. To those fighting their own basement flood fight, we wish you strength and at least a little sleep here and there. We’re all in this together in whatever way we can help!

By Jill Hallonquist, Disaster Program Manager, Twin Cities Area of the American Red Cross Minnesota Region. Click here for flood prep and response safety tips and resources. For relief assistance related to this disaster please call (612) 871-7176. 

Grateful for volunteers, proud of response

Disaster relief supplies for summer storm clean-up, Mora, Minnesota, July 2016. Photo: Red Cross
Disaster relief supplies for summer storm clean-up, Mora, Minnesota, July 2016. Photo: Red Cross

We are so proud of, and grateful for, all of the Red Cross disaster workers who have responded to tornadoes and flooding relief efforts in Minnesota.

Below are some stats about the Red Cross relief provided as of July 18. To see feature news coverage from July 14, click here.

  • 11 counties reached
  • 65 volunteers and staff responded
  • 3,900 snacks and bottles of water supplied
  • 60 clean-up kits provided
  • 300 bulk items such as gloves, bug spray, sunscreen given at two fixed sites

In addition, Red Cross volunteers conducted damage assessment, which helped the Red Cross and its partners plan relief operations.

When needed, volunteers also met directly with individuals impacted by the tornadoes and flooding to assess relief needs and provide assistance.

Thank you to all who responded to this relief effort!

You’ve heard about the flooding, right?

Red Cross relief workers on the US-Canadian border. Photo credit: Jenn Hamrick/American Red Cross

While most of us had our summer attention turned to beach towels and BBQ’s, others in our Red Cross region donned their disaster work clothes and supported the flooding response on the US-Canadian border. Most of the relief work focused on assisting residents and local government officials as they prepared for high waters along several lakes and rivers in Koochiching and northern St. Louis counties.

More than 50 Red Cross volunteers served during the response. Some people responded virtually — working from their home base (wherever that is in Minnesota or Wisconsin) — organizing food donations, coordinating workers or arranging technology support for the operation. Others had their high-water boots on-the-ground in and around Loman, Ranier or other flood-affected areas in northern Minnesota. There, they handed out cold beverages, bandaged cuts or surveyed threatened neighborhoods where residents worked hours and hours placing sandbags in advance of the flooding.

Most would agree that it’s a privilege to work with people who put aside their lives for a time when others –generally strangers — need them. Thank you to everyone, especially the volunteers, who served during this flooding response.

It’s time now to get some rest before you’re needed again.

Click here to see photos from the response.
Click here to learn about becoming a Red Cross volunteer.

Rusty, but safe

Story by Red Cross Volunteer Scott Olson

Rescue by front-loader during the Northland flash floods, June 20, 2012. Photo credit: area resident.

With flash flood waters rising fast, apartment building manager Roy Heller–rounded up his building’s residents and moved them to the building’s second floor. The next morning a front-loader made 3 trips to the building, carrying the bewildered residents to safety. Two had oxygen machines. At least one had prescription drug requirements and was concerned about getting refills. One of the ladies said: “my butt got rusty riding in that bucket.”

“My Butt got rusty riding in that bucket.” Rescued seniors tell their story to Red Cross disaster relief worker Carrie Carlson-Guest.

In total, 27 butts were rusted–and saved–on June 20 when an enterprising construction crew-member navigated the sturdy front loader through rushing water of the swollen Moose Horn River and up to the steps of the retirement complex.

At a Red Cross shelter a few days later, Gary Rector’s eyes reddened as he talked about watching the flood water rise over the front stairs of the apartment building, step by step. He wondered out loud about what might come of his tropical fish and pondered the whereabouts of the convertible Chrysler Lebaron that he’d just purchased a week before. Rector, retired musician and professed “hippie” slowly shook his head. Rector, a former a studio musician who worked on occasion with legendary singer and songwriter Del Shannon, only a few days earlier was playing his guitar with a friend in a neighboring park. Now the park was submerged and his home flooded.

Roy Heller, apartment building manager, Scanlon, MN. Photo credit: Scott Olson/American Red Cross

At around 9:10AM Thursday, Heller and Carlton County Sheriff briefed Rector and the other evacuated seniors. The water, they said had finally receded away from the apartment building. The apartment manager stood next to the Sheriff at a long table where the seniors were seated nibbling on snacks and trading stories, and announced that he could now see the entire front yard again. Everyone clapped. The Sheriff said it would be at least a couple days before inspectors could get inside and assess the damage.

Gary Rector, a retired studio musician, stayed at a Red Cross shelter during the flash flooding, Scanlon, Minnesota. Photo credit: Carrie Carlson-Guest/American Red Cross

If you would like to help people affected by the Northland flooding and other disasters here and around the world, you can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross P.O. Box 37423, Washington, DC 20013.

A couple portraits from the flooding disaster

You’ve heard the news or seen the images of the dramatic and traumatic events that continue to unfold in northeast Minnesota. We want you to know that the Red Cross is going full force–ramping up each moment–to help the people who are affected by this disaster. Last night we supported 185 people in shelters across the region. We offer, here, a couple portraits of people who are affected by this disaster.

Portraits and Photos from Judy Hanne-Gonzalez, Executive Director, American Red Cross Northland and North Star Chapters.

Michael Ray Marchand

When Michael Ray Marchand looked out his trailer door early morning on June 20, he could not believe his eyes. The twice-homeless veteran, who lost his leg and wears a vibrantly-colored prosthesis in a design based on the American Flag, saw pouring rain, downed power lines, and a home teetering as the soil beneath it washed away. Marchand was evacuated by his landlords and called 911 for help.  He was rescued by a fire truck and taken with sirens blaring to the Red Cross shelter at the First United Methodist Church (aka Coppertop church) in Duluth.  “Red Cross has given me food and a place to stay,” Marchand says. “I can’t believe it. This is the third time I’ve been homeless.”



Charles, Koda, Michelle, and Jayden

Michelle Henry, Charles Goggleye, and their children Koda Duane, five years old, and Jayden, two years, were staying with a sister in the Fond du Lac neighborhood when they were evacuated mid-morning on Wednesday by police as flood waters quickly rose. They escaped in their car, but it quickly broke down leaving them stranded again. They called Charles’ mother only to find that his brother and five children had also been evacuated and were staying there. So they found transportation to the Copper Top Church, where Red Cross workers were providing food, blankets, and a warm dry place to stay.  Red Cross volunteers entertained the children with movies. “We love the Red Cross,” says Koda. “They’re really nice!” Jayden and Koda loved the Red Cross comfort kits they were given, which included crayons, coloring books and toothbrushes.  The kids rushed to open the new toothbrushes and practiced brushing their teeth.

The Red Cross will soon begin mobile feeding as impacted areas become accessible; damage assessment volunteers are gathering and will deploy within 24 hours. Perhaps you’re already helping in some way, but if you’re wondering about HOW YOU CAN HELP, you can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to this and other disasters here and abroad. Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Out processed and headed home

Our Red Cross chapter mobile feeding on the road in Pennsylvania after the flooding. Photo credit: Rick Campion/American Red Cross

(from Rick and Karen Campion, Red Cross Emergency Services Volunteers based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Today is day 16 of our Red Cross deployment to the Pennsylvania flood response and we’re on our way home to Minneapolis.  This morning we cleared the final mobile feeding truck inspection and out-processing without a hitch.

This Red Cross national disaster response was well organized with a full complement of volunteers covering nearly 12,000 sq. miles of flood ravaged territory. Rick and I had a mobile feeding route in some of the hardest hit areas right along the banks of the Susquehanna River. We went from house to house to deliver meals.  Many of the recipients said we were the first disaster relief people they had seen.
It was difficult to not get teary eyed when they expressed their sincere

We have traveled nearly 4000 miles since we left home on 9/11 and today was
a quiet ride allowing us time to reflect on our Pennsylvania experience.  It’s easy to
be grateful for your blessings when you see the huge loss of so many.

We plan to be home this week and will see many of you soon.

Take care,
Karen and Rick

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