Resident Affected by Beaufort County Tornado Shares Experience

Dustin and his girlfriend share their story with Red Cross volunteers in the area surveying damaging and assessing the needs of community members affected by the tornadoes.

Dustin Brooks Haddock, 27, spoke of his experience the night he was sitting in his mobile home off Asbury Church Rd, and he ran out the house into a ditch as the tornado came across his area. He spoke of being his home and heard the tornado warning go off on his radio. He watched outside filming the tornado unfold from across the river. The tornado came over his home and this is when Dustin ran into the ditch at the back of his home. He realized his mistake in hiding in the ditch when a tree split and fell two foot from his head.

Today, Dustin said that as soon as the storm passed “his neighbors came out of their homes and started doing a head count making sure everyone in the community was alright” before they either left their homes or came to the shelter.

While the Red Cross was in the area doing disaster assessment, bulk distribution and handing out snacks and drinks; we met several of our community partners. Partners are assisting families in their recovery. Dustin remarked that “its the community you don’t know that makes you grateful for where you live”.

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From Board Member to Client, the Red Cross Comes Full Circle

By Tara Humphries, public affairs volunteer, American Red Cross

Amy Ward shares her story with local media.

Amy Ward shares her story with local media.

Amy Ward has served on the board of the American Red Cross Greater Pamlico Area Chapter for three years. She has helped with a number of fund raisers for disaster response, including traveling to Greenville for a Heroes Campaign telethon on April 9.

She joined the board because she was asked by another board member. “I was always community oriented but had not thought of the Red Cross. I just always did whatever, especially in a disaster,” Ms. Ward said, but had no hands-on experience.

As of Friday, April 25, that changed. She has a new respect for the organization and the chapter she now chairs and she knows what it feels like to respond to a disaster. That was the day a tornado struck her subdivision, hitting both her father’s and her mother’s homes, and barely missing her house.

“You definitely don’t expect anything like this to happen. It really does change your perspective,” Ms. Ward said. “It brings it a lot closer to home.”

tornado damage in chocowinity“You never know when you are going to need help. With hurricanes, you have time to decide how you want to deal with it. Not with this,” she said of the five minutes’ warning she had thanks to a friend’s call.  She ended up with eight to 10 people crammed into her downstairs bathroom while the tornado had its way with her neighborhood.

As soon as she and the others emerged from her house, they began helping their families and neighbors. And she began seeing first-hand what the Red Cross does during a disaster.

“It is one thing to fund raise for disasters,” Ms Ward said, “but when you are getting the assistance, it really brings it home.”

Her message for fellow survivors: “It is important to know that you have resources. People don’t know enough about the services and organizations that are there in a crisis.  You don’t have to do it all by yourself – the American Red Cross will always be there to help.”

Washington Bojangles Donates Meals for Tornado Victims

By James Jarvis & Tara Humphries, Public Affairs Volunteers, American Red CrossChocowinity NC 4-27-14-9905-2

Kevin Robinson, general manager for Bojangles’ restaurants in Beaufort County, NC, calls eastern NC home.  When a number of devastating tornadoes struck the region Friday night, Robinson checked on his neighbors, family and friends, and his employees.  Soon thereafter, he received a call from the American Red Cross requesting food assistance for area residents whose homes were in the path of the devastating storms.  He couldn’t say no.

“Absolutely – [The Red Cross] had a need and gave us a call.  We wanted to do anything we could to help,” said Robinson.  “We started making preparations last night so that we could produce all the additional meals we would need to provide today.”

Robinson and his Bojangles’ team provided 500 meals, or the equivalent of a routine weekday’s volume.

“We requested an additional chicken shipment so that we could meet the need,” Robinson explained.  “By 11 a.m. the meals were prepared and packaged and our employees were loading them into the Red Cross’ emergency response vehicle for immediate distribution.”

The American Red Cross could not fulfill its mission to care for residents affected by tragedies such as this week’s tornado without the generous donations of individuals and community businesses such as Bojangles restaurant.  To learn how you can help, please visit redcross.org.

 

Tornado Surprises Woman & her Dog

James Jarvis, an American Red Cross volunteer, distributes meals to Mrs. Judy Durbin and her mother following a tornado that destroyed her home.

James Jarvis, an American Red Cross volunteer, distributes meals to Mrs. Judy Durbin and her mother following a tornado that destroyed her home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy Durbin was sitting on her couch in Chocowinity, watching television with her dog, Sammy.  In a matter of seconds and without warning, her life was turned upside down by a tornado.

“My power went out and the next thing I knew the windows blew in.  It happened just that fast!  I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening, and then it was gone,” she said.

The house had collapsed all around her, except the roof over her head and two windows behind her.

Durbin was sitting on her couch with Sammy held tightly in her arms, trying to figure out what had just happened, when her neighbor, Duncan, stepped in through what had until moments ago been a window.  “Why are you coming through my window,” she recounted thinking.

A transplanted Beaufort County resident, Durbin spent most of her life living in the midwestern United States – a place far more accustomed to tornadic activity.  During the majority of her life, she experienced not a single natural disaster.  She moved to North Carolina 15 years ago and since then has been through three.

This is also the third time she has been assisted by the American Red Cross.  During Hurricanes Floyd & Fran, she experienced severe flooding and the Red Cross was there to provide “just about everything we needed.”

“I think a lot of the Red Cross,” Durbin said.

To learn more about how you can help, please visit www.redcross.org.

Just Try It!

Warren Drell, a former USAF medical equipment technician, volunteers with the American Red Cross.

Warren Drell, a former USAF medical equipment technician, volunteers with the American Red Cross.

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE (April 9, 2014) – Volunteerism takes many forms.  For some, volunteerism may be donating a few hours to help build a home for a needy family with Habitat for Humanity.  It may take the form of setting up a blood drive at your local school or it could be something as simple as you applying your skills and expertise for a worthwhile charity.  Warren Drell knows how to calibrate and repair medical equipment and he volunteers with the American Red Cross.

This week, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the American Red Cross Eastern Region presented Drell with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation on behalf of the President of the United States to recognize the best in American spirit, and to encourage all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service.

During his nearly ten years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Drell sought out numerous opportunities to volunteer in his community.  From 2009-2012, for example, while stationed at Ramstein Air Base in the Rheinland Pfalz region near Ramstein Village, Germany, Drell and his wife often volunteered at the Fisher House, a comfort home where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment at the military hospital there.

It was during this tour of duty that disaster struck his family as his sister-in-law tragically died in an automobile accident in the Summer of 2010.  The American Red Cross notified Drell of the accident and assist Drell and his family with their travel arrangements to return to the U.S. for her funeral.

Since leaving the Air Force, Drell has volunteered with the Red Cross by periodically calibrating and repairing its medical equipment as well as performing any manner of tasks on his volunteer days.

When asked why he volunteers with the Red Cross and what advice he would have for others considering doing so, Drell said “One of the greatest gifts one can bestow is helping others do what they cannot do for themselves with no expectation of your assistance ever being recognized.  For someone considering volunteer opportunities, I’d say to just try it once.  I promise you that you will receive far greater satisfaction than you ever imagined.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities near you, please visit http://www.redcross.org.

A Family Affair

Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, USAF (Retired), today received Presidential Volunteer Service Awards from Col. Jeannie Leavitt, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, USAF (Retired), today received Presidential Volunteer Service Awards from Col. Jeannie Leavitt, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE (April 9, 2014) – This week, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the American Red Cross Eastern Region presented Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, U.S. Air Force (Retired), each with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation on behalf of the President of the United States to recognize the best in American spirit, and to encourage all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service.

Margaret Taflinger, a Wayne County resident, was one of eight volunteers presented with volunteer recognition awards today by Col. Jeannie M. Leavitt, Commanding Officer, 4th Fighter Wing aboard Seymour Johnson AFB.  Ms. Taflinger received the Lifetime Achievement Award (PVSA), having logged well in excess of 4,000 hours of volunteer service with the Red Cross during the past 17 years.

As a former operating room registered nurse, Margaret worked with the Red Cross on numerous occasions throughout her nursing career to care for her patients and their families.  If a patient’s home was rendered uninhabitable by fire, Red Cross volunteers were there to ensure the patient’s family had a safe place to sleep at night.  If a close relative of a deployed service member took a turn for the worse, the Red Cross was there to notify him/her and request that he/she be allowed to immediately return to the patient’s bedside.  In dozens of interactions, the Red Cross was always there to provide assistance to those who needed it most.  So when she was given the opportunity to begin her own Red Cross volunteer story, she did as she always had done – she gave 100 percent, all the time.

Margaret’s Red Cross story began when she was only nine years old.  While her four older brothers were serving their country in the armed forces deployed around the world, her mother tragically died.  Her local chapter of the American Red Cross stepped in to assist her family and made arrangements for all of her brothers to return home.  It would be her earliest recollection of having all of her brothers home at the same time.

Margaret’s own volunteer work began in 1997 when her husband, Norman, was assigned to the 3rd Air Force at RAF Mildenhall, a British Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, England.  Margaret began volunteering with the Red Cross doing individual case work aboard a nearby military base, RAF Lakenheath.  In short order, she would rise to become a hospital chairwoman and later a hub director where she would oversee more than 700 Red Cross volunteers throughout Europe.

Her Red Cross story would continue at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base when she became a paid staff member at the base’s Red Cross office in 2001.  She coordinated blood drives, provided briefings to deploying service members and their families on various Red Cross services available to them and welcomed units home upon their return.  In 2007, she retired from Red Cross work, only to return a year later to carry on her duties as a volunteer when the Red Cross office on base formally closed its doors.  Last year, Seymour Johnson AFB again opened a Red Cross center on base with Margaret at the helm.

Norman Taflinger came to the Red Cross somewhat by accident.  Having worked for the federal government in a number of different capacities since 1972 (10 years on active duty, 17 years in the USAF Reserves, and in the federal civil service since 1980), Taflinger knew how exactly the government machine worked.  When his wife began working for the American Red Cross at Seymour Johnson AFB in 2001, she had a lot of ambitious goals to achieve.  Whenever she met resistance or obstacles to accomplishing an objective, Norman advised her how to navigate the bureaucracy to get it done.  A civil engineer, Norman began volunteering with the Red Cross to perform damage assessments following hurricanes or significant storms in Eastern North Carolina.  One thing led to another and Norman jumped in with both feet to provide for airmen and their families beset by disasters or tragedy.

“Norman expects to see tasks completed,” said Margaret Taflinger of her husband.  “When he began volunteering with the Red Cross, his attention to detail and high standards learned in the U.S. Air Force carried over very well as he ensured that every family they assisted received the care and follow up they were entitled to.  Nothing would fall through the cracks on his watch.”

For his 10 years of service, Norman was presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Silver Level) to recognize nearly 500 volunteer hours.

“Margaret and Norman are a wonderful team, working on behalf of service members and their families,” said Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers, Eastern North Carolina Region. “For all of their years of service, for which there could never be enough appropriate words of thanks, the Red Cross extends its heartfelt appreciation to Margaret and Norman as living examples of what these service awards are all about.”

When asked why he serves as a Red Cross volunteer, Norman said, “Serving with the Red Cross has always been a great source of pride for me.  Having had the opportunity to work with so many great people over the years and to see the enthusiastic support that we receive as we do our very best to care for the servicemen and women makes it all worthwhile.  I’m grateful that I get to continue to serve others.”

To learn more about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer, please visit http://www.redcross.org.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pays It Forward

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE (April 8, 2014) – U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Anthony Smith, the Patient Advocate for the 4th Medical Group, 4th Fighter Wing, helps service members and their families in a variety of ways. In addition to his active duty responsibilities, Smith is a dedicated American Red Cross volunteer.

USAF Master Sgt. Anthony Smith is an American Red Cross volunteer.

USAF Master Sgt. Anthony Smith is an American Red Cross volunteer.

This week, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the American Red Cross Eastern Region will present Smith with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation on behalf of the President of the United States to recognize the best in American spirit, and to encourage all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service.

Smith, a Wayne County resident, is one of eight volunteers who will be presented with volunteer recognition awards tomorrow by Col. Jeannie M. Leavitt, Commanding Officer, 4th Fighter Wing aboard Seymour Johnson AFB. Smith will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Silver Level), having logged nearly 500 hours of volunteer service with the Red Cross during the past year.

Every Red Cross volunteer seems to have his/her own unique story and significant event that brought them to volunteer service. For Smith, it was a Red Cross notification in late 2011 that his father, James Smith, Sr., suddenly became very ill. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, his father was only given months to live and his son requested and received a humanitarian transfer in January 2012 to Seymour Johnson AFB to be with him for the final months of his life. Mr. Smith passed away in March 2012. Reflecting upon his father’s life and wanting to honor his memory, Smith turned to the Red Cross.

“My father taught me so much throughout his life,” said Smith. “I wanted to honor him by giving back to my community. The Red Cross was there for me and I felt that it was an opportunity that I could put my heart into.”

Smith began his volunteer service as a case worker for military families. He credits his active duty service for enabling him to better support the service members and their families who come to the Red Cross for assistance.

“Compassion is the key to case work,” Smith explained. “No one ever gets a heads up when bad things are about to happen. When they do, people just want to know that they’re not facing the situation alone. Sometimes the days are hard, but that’s what keeps me going.”

To learn more about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer, please visit http://www.redcross.org.rco_blog_img_anthony