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Red Cross Volunteer Spends Father’s Day Far From Home


American Red Cross disaster workers continue to lend assistance to the thousands of people affected by this spring’s deadly weather.

Almost 500 people remain in Red Cross shelters in nine states, their neighborhoods destroyed by tornadoes, floods or wildfires. In addition to operating shelters, the Red Cross is feeding people, distributing food, water, and cleaning supplies, and providing health and mental health services to those affected by the devastating disasters which have affected more than half of the country since the end of March.

Among the hundreds of Red Cross workers still lending a hand is Ken Michaelson from Rapid City, SD, who is spending Father’s Day weekend more than 150 miles from home, helping flooding victims in the Missouri River basin. A retired banker, Ken is a volunteer with the Red Cross for about a year.

“I’m so impressed with the work the Red Cross does in these disasters and I’m proud to be a part of it,” he said. “We planned to celebrate Father’s Day with my father, who is in a Hot Springs retirement home with his wife of 65 years. My wife, daughter and grandson and I will just make the trip when I get back home.”

Michaelson recommends that others volunteer with the Red Cross. “They have such a well-run system dedicated to helping people in these disasters as well as offering many training programs aimed at helping people be better prepared for emergencies,” he said. Since joining the Red Cross he has taken advantage of many training opportunities, including CPR/First Aid/AED, front line supervision and financial and statistical management. “It’s great to be out in the field and see some of these Red Cross people in action,” he said.

Michaelson is sorry to miss Father’s Day this year but says his father and family will understand. “They see that there are people out there who were forced from their homes by these disasters and will be missing more than Father’s Day. The Red Cross is there to help them, regardless of the holiday,” he said.

The devastating spring weather, which brought deadly tornadoes, historic floods and dangerous wildfires to the United States, has affected more than half of the country. Since the end of March, the Red Cross has initiated 42 disaster relief operations in 29 states. More than 12,000 Red Cross workers have served millions of meals and snacks, provided tens of thousands of overnight stays in shelters, and distributed more than a million relief items like toothbrushes and shampoo, tarps, coolers, rakes and other cleanup supplies

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.