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Stories from the Heartland
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Red Cross
April 3, 2009

By now, most people have seen the news footage of volunteers coming together to fill sandbags in Fargo, North Dakota, working around the clock to save the town against the flooding Red River. Volunteers and employees from the American Red Cross have been lucky enough to witness firsthand the amazing community spirit that is on display in the Midwest.


Lining up to Offer a Hand

On his recent trip to the disaster area, Joe Becker, senior vice president of Disaster Services at the Red Cross, stopped in at a shelter in Casselton, a town outside Fargo. He was amazed by stories of how much support the town offered in the wake of floods and blizzards.

"The day we opened the door there were 500 volunteers from the town lined up to help us—500. As amazed as I was at that, I then learned the whole town only has 2000 residents—one fourth of the town turned out to help us care for the frail and assisted living facility clients we were serving," Becker said.

Becker was so impressed that he called the mayor to thank him and the town. "This is another example of community support like I have never seen in a disaster," Becker added.

A Family Affair

Nick Gehrig, a Red Cross employee from Minnesota, recently ran across a "Wolfe pack" while working in a Fargo shelter.
Steve and Robert Wolfe are Red Cross volunteers who are also brothers. They are working in one of three public Red Cross shelters currently open for those affected by the Red River flood.

The Red River flood is not the first national disaster they’ve volunteered for—this is actually their fourth—but it’s the first time they’ve volunteered together in the same Red Cross shelter.

When Gehrig asked Robert what it was like to be paired with his brother, Robert said,  "While you develop great relationships with other volunteers, it’s nice to have your brother to lean on too. It’s another level of unconditional support."

The nickname "Wolfe pack" was coined by volunteers and staff of the Greater Indianapolis Chapter when the brothers, Steve’s wife and Robert’s 12-year-old son were all recognized for their involvement with the Red Cross.

Safe Haven for a Soldier

Shawn White Bull
Shawn White Bull

Shawn White Bull would rather have been home, but a Red Cross shelter in Fargo was a welcome alternative for the Iraq veteran who was stranded in Fargo when a heavy snowstorm closed roads and highways throughout the Dakotas. 

He was returning home after spending 15 months in Iraq as an electronics expert with the U.S. Air Force when the bus he was taking from Fort Hood, Texas could go no farther and left him in Fargo. He said his family in McLaughlin, South Dakota was worried about him but was relieved that he was in a Red Cross shelter. He joined about 30 other guests at the shelter and said he was just glad to be warm, safe and well fed. "The Red Cross people here have been great," he said.

Two days later, White Bull finally headed home, leaving on a bus headed for Bismarck, where his family planned to meet him at last.

Help people affected by disasters like the recent flooding, by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.

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