News from the American Red Cross of Upstate South Carolina

The American Red Cross of Upstate South Carolina serves Greenville, Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, and Pickens Counties.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Upstate Red Cross Marks 20th Anniversary of Hurricane Hugo

Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, South Carolina on September 21, 1989 with winds up to 135 miles per hour. These winds, together with a storm surge (rapid rise in sea level produced when winds drive ocean waters ashore) of water about 17 feet high, wrecked buildings and marinas along more than 100 miles of coastline. Away from the coast, high winds and several tornadoes damaged buildings and downed trees and power lines. Due to the extreme intensity of Hurricane Hugo when it crossed the South Carolina coast – the storm roared through inland communities with unimaginable fury. Many residents of inland areas had not fled mobile homes for more substantial shelter, expected only dangerous conditions near the coast. Hugo marched through South Carolina killing scores of people, destroying property, leaving untold sorrow. Many who had fled the coast found themselves in frightening weather conditions while they waited in motels, shelters, and schools. Almost two-hundred miles inland Hugo still had 100-mph wind gusts. The major metropolitan area of charlotte, North Carolina suffered extensive damage. Thousands of large trees fell into homes and businesses around Charlotte and glass was shattered in downtown skyscrapers. Torrential rains in Virginia flooded roads and cut power to 2 million people. By late on September 22nd, Hugo finally died over the cool forest of southern Canada.

American Red Cross trained volunteers opened 438 shelters that housed over 93,000 people. One week after the storm over 56,000 people in South Carolina were left homeless. Red Cross served over 1,000,000 meals. Over 700 volunteers worked around the clock in South Carolina assisting hurricane victims with immediate needs such as food, clothing, shelter, bedding and other essential items of household furnishings as well as emergency medical supplies.

Ann Wright, CEO of the American Red Cross of Upstate South Carolina was dispatched 3 days in advance of predicted landfall to North Charleston with a team of disaster volunteers and staff leaders to serve as the Director of the Charleston Hurricane District. She was there for the duration of the storm and some of the first to see the damage at first light. “It was a harrowing night as the eye passed over us in sheer darkness. We could hear trees breaking, winds howling, and class shattering for what seemed like days! Amazingly, some phone communications actually remained in tact until the very end of the storm” Ms. Wright said. “Many of our personnel and supplies were staging in Charlotte. Unfortunately, Hugo took a path inland and literally followed Interstate 85 and hit Charlotte with significant winds and rain. This delayed our support and supply arrival, so we had to get by with what little we had. It was very scary, yet a rewarding experience. People at their very best, and some at their very worst, in one of the darkest hours this country had ever seen up to that point. Not soon forgotten! My hope, said Ann Wright, is that no one will forget how important it is to respect these storms and their power. Being prepared and following evacuation orders are critical.”

The American Red Cross encourages every family to be Red Cross Ready in case of a hurricane or any disaster. It is important for you to be prepared for possible disasters and other emergencies. Natural or human-caused disasters can strike suddenly, at anytime and anywhere. There are three actions everyone can take that can help make a difference:

Get a kit
Make a Plan
Be informed

Join other members of your community through the American Red Cross in taking these first steps. You never know how many people your actions will affect, how many lives you might change. Contact your local American Red Cross today for more information on how you can be Red Cross Ready.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

During National Preparedness Month, You Need to do More Than Cross Your Fingers!

A picture of my family. Chocolate for the kids. And—my dentist will love this—floss.

Those are just a few of the personal things I’ve put in my emergency kit—in addition to the basics like food, water, a flashlight, radio and first-aid supplies. As a mom—and someone who lives in earthquake and wildfire country—I want my family to be prepared for emergencies that can happen at anytime and anywhere. I think it’s important that we all do that

So what will you put into your kit to personalize it for you and your family?

Watch a short video I taped for ideas and general tips on what to put in a kit so that you’re prepared. Then share your own ideas and see what others have to say:

September is National Preparedness Month and I am proud to be a part of the American Red Cross’s Do More than Cross Your Fingers campaign.

We all cross our fingers for luck, but when we’re facing life’s emergencies, it’s easy to do a little more. Pick up kit supplies. Write an emergency plan. Stay informed. You’ll thank yourself later!

So what’s going in your emergency kit to help you and your family through life’s emergencies, big and small? Share now by clicking here:

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

All the best,

Jamie Lee Curtis
Proud Volunteer
American Red Cross

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Aid Training Put into Practice at Upstate Lowe's

Veteran First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor Lenora Cuddy and a group of her former students had occasion to use their First Aid training recently at a Greenville Lowe's store. Some Lowe's employees, who had previously taken an American Red Cross First Aid class with Lenora as their Instructor, snapped into action and responded like a well-oiled machine to an emergency in their parking lot.

This is Lenora's story, as told told to Linda Conrad, Director of Health & Safety for the ARC of Upstate SC:

Dear Linda,

Wow! I can’t believe I get to write you this letter. As one of your Red Cross instructors for many years now I have often wondered if my students would really remember what to do in the event of a real emergency, today I got my answer.

Roughly at somewhere around 1:45 today I was arriving at the Lowe’s on Woodruff Road (one of my former classes for the Red Cross). Just as I stepped out of the car I heard a loud cry for help. I looked around and found an older lady with a huge gash on her leg. Both she and her elderly husband were screaming for help and asking someone to call 911. Several onlookers ran into the store and one offered a towel to soak up the blood.

My medical background and Red Cross training took hold and I sprang into action I placed my hand in a Lowe’s plastic bag for protection applied direct pressure to a gash that was roughly 4” long. She was bleeding heavily so I elevated her leg. During questioning she told me that she was taking a blood thinner. I made the 911 call off my cell phone. I know this sounds like I am tooting my own horn, but it is what happened when the Lowe’s employees showed up that most impressed me. They took control of the area and started asking the right questions and securing the scene. One of them arrived with the BBP [Bloodborne Pathogens] spill kit and made sure that the area was secure and cleaned properly after our patient was taken to the hospital. I smile even now as I remember one of them looking at me and going “Hey aren’t you our Red Cross Lady”, and then reassuring the victim what good hands she was in.

Linda, there are no words to tell you how proud I was of this group and how good it felt to finally know without a doubt that we do make a difference (today what I taught the employees at Lowe’s made a difference). I hope this made you smile and that you feel as much pride as I do in the staff at Lowe’s.


Lenora Cuddy

All it takes is a phone call to register for a First Aid class. In less than four hours you too can have the training it takes to feel confident that you will know how to react in an emergency situation such as this.

For Greenville area classes, call 271-8222
Anderson 225-8666
Greenwood/Abbeville/McCormick 229-3102
Laurens 938-6306
Pickens 878-0131
Oconee 638-5619
Spartanburg/Cherokee/Union 583-8000

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

American Red Cross Honors Local Volunteers

On Tuesday, May 12th the American Red Cross of Upstate SC in Pickens County hosted its annual volunteer recognition dinner. The theme for the dinner was an Oscar Party – Pickens County style. The paparazzi even showed up to take photos of the Red Cross celebrities.

Every May, American Red Cross volunteers, partners and friends gather to celebrate and reflect on the past year. Usually we share a few statistics and highlights, perhaps reveal a few of the quirks of our staff and volunteers and recognize everyone for their commitment to our mission.

During these difficult and often stressful times, each of us is continually asked to do more with less at home, at work and with our families. Sarah Dow, Director of The American Red Cross of Upstate SC in Pickens County states that she “finds focus by remembering why she is here.” You see for Sarah, her passion for the mission of the Red Cross predates her service to the organization. Despite the fact that it has been over 15 years, the story she shares is still as clear and emotional today.

It is one of the very many stories that bind her so closely to the mission of the American Red Cross.

Katie, one of Sarah’s high school classmates, lost her home to a fire. The fire department arrived on scene that Friday night but could not save the home – it was completely destroyed. Her family did not have homeowner’s insurance. For two days her family of five lived out of their car in the driveway of their destroyed home - alone. She went to school the next Monday wearing the same clothes she had been wearing all weekend. The clothes were wrinkled, dirty with soot and sweat and reeked with the unique smell of a burned home. You see at that time there was not a Red Cross in the community where Sarah lived. She remembers her mother, with tears in her eyes, handing Katie $200 after school that Monday to buy clothes wishing she could do more to help. Sarah also saw the struggle in Katie's eyes before she looked down at her feet as she decided to accept the gift with embarrassment.

10 years later Sarah had the opportunity to work with the American Red Cross in her new community ensuring families, unlike Katie’s, would have a shoulder to lean, new clothing, shoes, shelter and food after a disaster.

Sarah is proud to be a part of the American Red Cross of Upstate SC, which serves Greenville, Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick and Pickens counties, was founded in 1917, nearly 100 years ago.

Every year we face a new set of challenges. Each time the Red Cross rises to meet the challenge head on – never wavering from our commitment to help people prepare, prevent and respond to emergencies.

In a time when change and uncertainty reign, Sarah believes the following statement speaks to the spirit and very nature of the American Red Cross,

“Although its growth may seem to have been slow, it is to be remembered that it is not a shrub, or plant, to shoot up in the summer and wither in the frosts. The Red Cross is a part of us – it has come to stay – and like a sturdy oak; its spreading branches shall yet encompass and shelter the relief of the nation.”

Clara Barton shared these thoughts on May 14, 1904 at the ceremony for her retirement as the President of the American Red Cross. Those words still ring true today and the Red Cross symbol continues to provide comfort and shelter to those in need - especially during these challenging times.

Many volunteers were recognized Tuesday evening for their service. Four special volunteers were recognized for their years of service to the American Red Cross. Each of them has 15 years of service with the American Red Cross for a combined total of 60 years! Those volunteers are: Bill Penn, Joan Penn, Mike Little and Gloria Little.

The Female Volunteer of the Year was Crossie Cox and the Male Volunteer of the Year was Mike Little.

We could not help or train our neighbors if it was not for our volunteers – they are the lifeblood of the American Red Cross. Next time you see a Red Cross volunteer; please tell them “thank you” for a job well done.

To find out more information about the American Red Cross and volunteer opportunities, please call 864-878-0131 or email Sarah Dow at

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The American Red Cross Celebrates 128 Years!

Today is the "Birthday" of our American Red Cross. This is a great time to remember the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement:

Humanity The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield endeavours, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all peoples.

Impartiality It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

Neutrality In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Independence The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

Voluntary Service It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

Unity There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

Universality The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

Want to learn more about the history of the American Red Cross? Visit this page!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Volunteers Recognized at Upstate Awards Dinner

Last week, American Red Cross Volunteers from all over the Upstate were celebrated and cheered at the Annual Meeting and Volunteer Awards Dinner.

Volunteers were recognized for attaining milestones in years of service to the ARC of Upstate South Carolina. Some especially dedicated Volunteers were nominated for awards given in recognition of outstanding service.

Martha Dove received the New Volunteer of the Year Award
Roger Myers received the Disaster Volunteer of the Year Award
Sally Clark received the Doris Simpson Burgess Award
Keith Ridgeway received the Diversified Volunteer of the Year Award
Earl Wright received the Henri Dunant Award for the outstanding male Volunteer of the year
Anna Cuson received the Clara Barton Award for the outstanding female Volunteer of the year
Tanya Carter received the Tiffany Award for Employee Excellence

If you should see any of these dedicated individuals, please thank them for their hard yet rewarding work.

Volunteers are the heart of the Red Cross!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Gettys Middle School Student Saves Child's Life Using ARC Training

Sarah Dow, Director of the Pickens Office of the ARC of Upstate SC, sends us this Good News item.

Mrs. Dorothy Blanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher at Gettys Middle School in Easley, SC, relayed the following story:
"One of my 8th grade students told me that she saved a little boy’s life at church yesterday by using Abdominal Thrusts. She said the adult in charge just wanted to pat him on the back, and she told the adult she was trained and knew what she was doing because she learned it in school a couple of days ago."
Mrs. Blanton teaches American Red Cross lifesaving skills to her students every year including: Adult CPR, Infant and Child CPR, Babysitters Training and First Aid.

To learn more about lifesaving training visit our website at