The work of the American Red Cross in the bi-county area was detailed for the Monett Kiwanis Club at its latest weekly meeting. Donna Jones, regional financial development officer for the Red Cross, spoke about what the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the Red Cross does in the 21 counties in southwest Missouri.
Jones said she mainly concentrates on Barry, Lawrence, Taney and Stone counties. Statistics for the 2008-09 business year, which ran from July 1, 2007, to June 30, are currently being compiled for publication. Looking at the 2007-08 year, the Red Cross helped 23 families in Barry and Lawrence counties, for a total of 63 people.
The Red Cross provides aid in two ways, Jones said. To meet immediate needs, the Red Cross provides credit cards. Nationwide, the Red Cross gives families between $700 and $1,000 each in an emergency. The families in Barry and Lawrence counties in 2007-08 got an average of $854.
Add-ons include funding for three nights in a motel, a month's rent and comfort kits with basic supplies. Local families in the same time period got around $10,000 worth of comfort kits, bringing the total aid to families to $30,895. Total money raised from the bi-county area in the same period was $10,418, Jones said.
Typically, the Red Cross responds to disasters. Jones said the most common are house fires. In the 2007-08 year, both Barry and Lawrence counties dealt with tornadoes and floods. During the January 2007 ice storm, the Red Cross was responsible for running 128 shelters across southwest Missouri.
The Red Cross was closely involved in recovery efforts following the May 10, 2008, tornado that traveled from Picher, Okla., to Purdy. Documentation showed the storm grew to an F4 intensity, with winds over 200 miles per hour. A total of 193 homes were totally destroyed, 91 more had major damage and 143 had minor damage. Only 30 percent of homeowners and renters had property insurance.
The Red Cross provided emergency financial support to 320 families, distributed 2,069 comfort kits, referred 54 families to long-term recovery services, served 7,323 meals, served 728 clients and distributed $289,562 in direct family assistance. Three shelters were opened the night of the storm.
The Greater Ozarks Chapter of the Red Cross has an annual budget of $4.6 million.
Jones said she personally knows about what it takes to help families. Her husband is a member of the Red Cross's disaster response team. She called herself a "Red Cross widow" due to his absences from being called away to disasters.
The chapter has offices in Springfield, Joplin and West Plains and in Vernon and Laclede counties. Jones said the Red Cross has closed several of its offices to consolidate and to make sure services are consistent to each family in disasters.
Kiwanis President Lisa Balmas presided at the meeting. Frank Washburn was the program chairman.
Eric Kean reported 14 Boy Scouts and adults recently completed a canoe trip to Alaska. Following the 18-hour trip to Anchorage, the Monett crew headed to their destination. The river they planned to travel had grown from a class 2 stream to a class 4 river after two days of rain, rising two feet.
Travel on the river was arduous, Kean said. One Scout's boat dumped him in the river four times in 45 minutes. Two boats were lost on the trip. The group spent seven days on the river and had beautiful weather for the last two. The group was led by two teenage guides, Kean said.
In club news, members were reminded of the Mo-Ark District Kiwanis convention which will be held July 30 through Aug. 1 in Joplin.
The Monett Kiwanis Club meets weekly for a meal and a program at noon on Tuesdays at Happy House restaurant.