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Altoona Woman Grateful for Help from Red Cross

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“I remember Tom saying: ‘You can call me anytime, even if it’s just to talk,’

Late at night on April 18, 2016, Leona Kane woke to her daughter frantically screaming for her to get out of her home in Altoona, Iowa. A neighbor, who saw smoke coming from Kane’s home, called her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend who came to help get her out before any harm came to Kane. 

As soon as she woke, Kane grabbed her dog and escaped through the smoke just in time for the flames to burst higher over her home. From the noise the fire was making, she suspected a gas leak and notified her neighbors in case it spread. Kane said that even before the fire department arrived, her home was ruled a total loss. 

“The Red Cross has really been someone for me to lean on,” Kane said, “Not just financially, but emotionally. They are the only charity that has come to me and said ‘how can we help you’ and then has actually been there for me.” 

The American Red Cross gave Kane an assistance card to help buy essentials, since all she had escaped with was her dog and nightgown. Red Cross health services volunteer, Tom Schulte, from Earling, Iowa, offered to be her shoulder to lean on. 

“I remember Tom saying: ‘You can call me anytime, even if it’s just to talk,’” Kane said.  “And that really meant a lot to me.” 

Kane said that without the help from the Red Cross, the whole process would have been much more stressful and it was helpful to have someone who knew what to do and who to call. 

“This was my worst nightmare,” Kane said about the fire, “I wouldn’t want it to happen to anyone. You just feel lost.” 

Kane said the Red Cross continues to be there to help her medically, if her insurance is unable to replace things such as her wheelchair, and emotionally. Kane is currently staying with family. 

The work of the Red Cross is made possible by the generosity of the American public. You can help people affected by disasters big and small by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables us to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. You can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

To read more of Leona Kane's story, click here.