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Red Cross Builds Resiliency in Towns Impacted by Disaster

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Preparedness and resiliency make us stronger for the next emergency.

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, affecting millions of people. 

More recently and closer to home, communities in Northern Colorado have experienced their own trauma as floods, tornadoes and evacuations have impacted their homes over the past two years. 

In honor of the resiliency of the people and the communities affected by these disasters, the American Red Cross of Northern Colorado will lead two community preparedness and resiliency projects in Northern Colorado on Aug. 29 – the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. 

In Greeley, the Red Cross will collaborate with Hope United, The Lauren Project, Greeley Fire Department and Weld Recovers to reach out to more than 150 residents impacted by the 2013 floods with tools and education to protect them against America’s most common disaster: Home Fires. Teams of volunteers will visit Greeley residents in heavily impacted neighborhoods to install smoke alarms, replace alarm batteries, and help residents develop emergency plans. 

“We’re working together to reduce the chance for these residents to get hit by a double-whammy. After the long effort to recover from the 2013 floods, the last thing we want them to endure is losing everything again to a home fire,” said Jason Godinez, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Northern Colorado. 

In Sterling, Red Cross volunteers will deliver the Red Cross Pillowcase Project – an emergency preparedness training--  to a group of 3rd-5th graders at the Nazarene Church, 1600 Sidney Ave. Through the Red Cross Pillowcase Project, children learn how to create their own emergency supply kit by packing essential items in a pillowcase which is easy to carry in an emergency. They can decorate and personalize their pillowcase and each child receives a “My Preparedness Workbook” and a certificate of completion at the end of their training.

The Sterling event is part of a nationwide effort by the Red Cross: The World’s Largest Pillowcase Project will be held on August 29, the ten-year anniversary of Katrina. Red Cross chapters across the country will hold Pillowcase events – including multiple events in Colorado -- to help children and their families learn the importance of being prepared for emergencies. 

“In the last ten years, the Pillowcase Project has helped countless children better plan for their future,” Godinez said.  “It all started with a pillowcase and an idea to help children in New Orleans and has spread to hundreds of communities across the country.”

Through the Pillowcase Project, children in grades three through five learn how weather hazards occur, how to get ready for and to cope with emergencies. They also learn how to develop a way to contact household members in an emergency situation, how to develop fire escape plans and emergency contact cards and how important it is to share what they learn with members of their household so everyone can be prepared.

Today the Red Cross Pillowcase Project is available free to teach young children about natural hazards and how they can prepare for disasters.  For more information on the Pillowcase Project, contact Deb Swanson at