Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red Cross Launches Emergency Appeal After Multiple Residential Fires

After three consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures, treacherous roadways and rolling blackouts, today in Dallas, Texas, most of us woke up to live television broadcasts of a 24-unit apartment building engulfed in flames. In the early morning hours, a ferocious fire off of Melody Lane forced families onto a very frigid curb. The air temperature was 7 degrees with a wind chill below zero. Families escaped with only their pajamas, and socks if they were lucky.

The City of Dallas immediately sent city buses to the scene so that the families could stay warm until Red Cross teams arrived. Traveling across ice-covered streets, two teams of Red Cross volunteers made their way to the apartment building and opened the doors of their disaster relief vehicles. Families received warm blankets, sweat suits, shoes, socks and hygiene supplies. As it stands now, 18 families, a total of 40 people, will need all available Red Cross services including help finding a new place to live, financial help to purchase groceries, new shoes, new clothing, winter coats and more. Dan Halyburton, one of our Red Cross volunteers who responded to the fire, said that the scene was heartbreaking.

"These families suffered major losses. Many won't have anything left to salvage at all." Halyburton said that the Red Cross teams at the scene knew how important it was for them to be there. "Our volunteers drove through some dangerous conditions to get here, and that's because they knew families were waiting for them, and that the families really needed their help. And they were right. Everyone was very grateful to see the Red Cross."

This morning's apartment fire marks the fourteenth residential fire that the Dallas Area Chapter has responded to in the past 72 hours. Additionally, we've opened two shelters and one warming center to care for North Texans. And now, as I literally type you this message, my blackberry is chiming non-stop as we're being asked by Dallas Fire-Rescue to make our way to another apartment fire on Forest Lane. It appears that at least 20 people could be displaced there. Our teams are loading supplies now and within 30 minutes, they will be back out on the icy roads, making their way to help even more people.

There are no easy disasters. Ice storms though, come with their own set of challenges. Power outages, home and apartment fires, frozen pipes, dangerous roadways, and a depleted disaster relief fund and blood supply.

We have been working 24/7 in disaster relief and need to replace many of our supplies as quickly as possible. Not responding however, has been our Blood Services Division. Because of the unsafe roadways, we had to call off all of our blood drives for most of the week. If that blood is not collected, the results will be devastating. So I am asking you to take two actions to help the Red Cross help others during this winter storm.

First, please make a gift to help the Red Cross replenish what we've spent over the past few days, and ensure that when the next unexpected event happens, we're ready to be there. You can call us at 214-678-4800, click on our website at or Text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Secondly, please schedule an appointment to donate blood. This gift is going to be critical for patients who are at this moment waiting on blood to save their lives. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or go to to schedule your appointment.

As always, I deeply thank you for your support of the American Red Cross. Without you, we don't help others. It really is that simple.

Sending you warm wishes for the remainder of the winter season!

Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones

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