Ross Family Seeks Refuge in Chicago

Fleeing in the wake of Gustav, the Ross family sought help from the Greater Chicago Red Cross. Willie, Maria and their two sons found a place to stay, volunteers to care for them and maybe even a place to start over. They’re also Hurricane Katrina survivors! Read their story here.

More hurricanes are on their way, and our Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is critically low. We rely on the generosity of the American people to give during times of disaster, and it seems like more and more people are going to need help from the Red Cross during this hurricane season.

Chicago Aids Gustav Evacuees

Daeshawn Lewis, Kalib and Arthur Martin share a moment with Jana Sweeny of the Red Cross in the shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as Hurricane Gustav rages outside. Photo by Gene Dailey.

Hurricane Gustav has subsided, but Red Cross disaster services are in full swing. Volunteers from throughout Chicagoland deployed to the Gulf region—20 volunteers from our chapter alone—to make sure that people who evacuated are taken care of. And though our shelter at Northeastern University is currently only hosting a few evacuees, we’re prepared to take in more. Local volunteers are staffing the shelter here, and it has been set up in a donated space. When Katrina hit, we helped more than 7,000 people. It pays to be prepared.

As you might imagine, we have had a surge of inquiries about volunteering for the Red Cross in the wake of Gustav. We are grateful for this outpouring of generosity. Though we’re not accepting untrained volunteers to assist with the disaster relief efforts in the Gulf, we always welcome new volunteers. Those interested in helping in future disasters should start by filling out our volunteer application.

Check out some of the coverage we’re getting in the local news, including a video with our disaster volunteer, Mary Hunter on ABC 7:

Mary Hunter is watching news reports from the hurricane-stricken Gulf region with more than a passing interest. By Tuesday, the Libertyville grandmother will be on the ground in Mississippi helping victims. She remembers doing the same work three years ago in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.

“Once I got down there they assigned me to client case work, which we meet with the people impacted by the hurricane and help them financially get back on their feet,” said Hunter.

Thanks to Mary, and to every one of our Red Cross volunteers. Thanks for going out to help when others can’t, and for taking the time to take care of people who need you. Check out more photos at the Red Cross Flickr Set.

-Kristin Claes is a writer for the Greater Chicago chapter of the Red Cross.

Shelter for Gustav Evacuees in Chicago

We’ve been receiving calls from people who either evacuated the Gulf Coast in advance of Hurricane Gustav or are unable to return home because of it. We’re opening a shelter on the campus of Northeastern Illinois University at 7 p.m. today so those people have a place to stay. The Greater Chicago Red Cross will provide a safe place to sleep, meals and emotional support to anyone who evacuated from the Gulf Coast or is unable to return home due to this disaster. To date, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has deployed 17 disaster relief workers to the affected area to help with relief efforts. Visit for more information.