Red Cross Earthquake Response and Recovery: One Month Update

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Nov. 30, 2018 – one month ago today – reminds us of the seriousness of where we live, and the importance of being ready when disaster strikes. But, it also reminds us of the resiliency of our communities, and just how quickly we come together in times of crisis.

Within hours of the earthquake, Red Cross of Alaska volunteer disaster workers were on the ground in Southcentral Alaska, offering comfort, relief supplies and support to those affected by the initial quake and ensuing aftershocks.

Emergency Sheltering
Red Cross emergency shelters were open by late afternoon on Nov. 30 in Anchorage, Chugiak and Wasilla. Volunteers were bustling, setting up feeding areas, technology hubs, health services areas and registration desks. Cots were delivered to arrange the overnight sleeping areas and our partners at the Salvation Army had arrived and began serving dinner.

Volunteers were bustling, setting up feeding areas, technology hubs, health services areas and registration desks.”

A total of 230 overnight stays in Red Cross emergency shelters were provided to residents across the affected areas, and more than 2,237 meals and snacks were served alongside nonprofit partners during the first two weeks of the response.

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Distribution of Emergency Supplies

In the days that followed Nov. 30, as people returned to their homes to pick up the pieces, the Red Cross of Alaska distributed relief supplies to those in need. Emergency clean-up kits included items like water, masks, tarps, brooms, and more.

Approximately 160 personal hygiene kits, clean-up kits and cases of water were distributed to affected residents.

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Disaster Mental Health

The earthquake was a very unsettling event for many Alaskans. Red Cross disaster mental health and health services volunteers traveled to disaster sites across the affected area to help evaluate the mental state of disaster victims, provide psychological first aid and offer tips for coping with crisis.

Nearly 350 disaster health and mental health contacts have been made to assist affected residents in the past month.

Damage Assessment and Recovery Casework

Using cutting-edge technology that deploys advanced mapping and detailed demographics, damage assessment teams set to work, locating and surveying heavily damaged homes in the affected areas.

Red Cross damage assessments have been conducted in more than 650 homes affected by the earthquake and the thousands of aftershocks that followed.

Once damage is assessed, the Red Cross then may be able to provide residents with additional resources through recovery casework, by providing immediate financial assistance where possible and creating the right plans to meet each need.

To date, more than 160 cases have been opened to provide assistance to more than 430 affected residents through the Red Cross recovery casework process.

Disaster Workforce

As a result of the earthquake, the Red Cross has mobilized a total of 144 disaster workers since Nov. 30.

During the last month, 13 training sessions have also been conducted for both new and existing Red Cross volunteers on a variety of subjects, ranging from basic Red Cross orientation courses to damage assessment courses and refreshers on shelter operations.

When earthquake victims turned to us in their darkest hours, Red Cross volunteers provided relief and comfort, thanks to generous supporters in Alaska and around the country. In a year of unprecedented events, your support has enabled us to remain nimble in our response, and to prepare for the next big disaster.

Please visit to learn more about our programs and services.


Red Cross Earthquake Preparedness Tips

Earthquake Preparedness and Safety

How to Prepare for an Earthquake 

Protecting your family:

  • Talk about earthquakes with your family so that everyone knows what to do in case of an earthquake. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.
  • Check at your workplace and your children’s schools and day care centers to learn about their earthquake emergency plans.
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON in each safe place.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts:

o   Find an online NOAA radio station

o   Search for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or Google Play

o   Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio in the Red Cross Store

  • Keep a flashlight and any low-heeled shoes by each person’s bed.

Protecting your pets & animals:

Protecting your home:

  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Have a professional install flexible fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures to joists.
  • Anchor top-heavy, tall and freestanding furniture such as bookcases, china cabinets to wall studs to keep these from toppling over.
  • Ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
  • Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation, as well as strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.

During an Earthquake

Staying Safe Indoors:


o   Move as little as possible – most injuries during earthquakes occur because of people moving around, falling and suffering sprains, fractures and head injuries.

o   Try to protect your head and torso.

  • If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on, and cover your head.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.

o   If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case of aftershocks, power outages or other damage.

  • Be aware that smoke alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
  • If you smell gas, get out of the house and move as far away as possible.
  • Before you leave any building check to make sure that there is no debris from the building that could fall on you.

Staying Safe Outdoors:

  • Find a clear spot and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • Try to get as far away from buildings, power lines, trees, and streetlights as possible.
  • If you’re in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible.

o   Stay inside with your seat belt fastened until the shaking stops.

o   After the shaking has stopped, drive on carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.

o   If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.

  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris as well as landslides.

After an Earthquake

Staying Safe After an Earthquake

If you do nothing else:

  • If away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons.
  • After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami if you live on a coast.
  • Each time you feel an aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
  • Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.

Caring for yourself & loved ones:

  • If you are at home, look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Listen to a portable, battery-operated or hand-­crank radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
  • Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Help people who require additional assistance – infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.

Returning home safely:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Use extreme caution and examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after an earthquake. Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.


Featured Image: UAF Alaska Earthquake Center 

Displaced by the Earthquake, Alaskans Seek Safety and Comfort at Red Cross Shelters

Story & Photos by Abby Charles/American Red Cross

Fifteen Anchorage residents, displaced by Friday’s quake, spent Saturday night sleeping on cots in the Fairview Recreation Center gym. They were joined the next day by forty more seeking shelter, their homes lacking power, running water, or both.

“The earthquake was an unsettling event for many Alaskans,” said Red Cross Regional Communications Officer Cari Dighton.  “We have been working around the clock with our partners to assist in this disaster response.”

Red Cross volunteers clean the dining room of the Fairview Rec Center.

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck at 8:29 am on Friday. By five o’clock that evening, the Red Cross was welcoming residents to shelters in the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center in downtown Anchorage, the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla and the Chugiak Senior Center in Chugiak. All three locations provided warm meals and a safe place to sleep for those in need.

Long-time Red Cross volunteer Bruce Whelan worked the night shift at the Egan Center shelter.

“We had families showing up all through the night… people would come in [saying] ‘my house is cold, I can’t stay there,’” said Whelan. “We had 53 people there as of midnight, with about ten more showing up overnight.”

On Saturday, the Anchorage shelter relocated from the Egan Center to the Fairview Recreation Center. The shelters in Wasilla and Chugiak closed as affected residents were able to return home.

Bruce Whelan
Bruce Whelan, Disaster Action Team leader, stands next to a table full of food in the Fairview Rec Center kitchen.

Since the quake, the Red Cross has provided 230 overnight stays in its four shelters. Over 2,230 meals and snacks have been served, thanks to a partnership between the Red Cross and the Salvation Army’s Alaska District. And more than 70 Red Cross volunteers have tended to shelters and assisted clients by distributing emergency supplies and providing disaster and mental health services.

Earthquake Relief Graphic_v3

Volunteers David and Pam LaForest drove up from Soldotna to help out. “We expect to be here until Wednesday,” Dave said. “If anyone needs anything, we’re here with open doors and open arms.”

Lora Harroff?
Red Cross volunteer Lora Harroff cleans up after a lunch that served about fifty clients.

For more information, follow the Red Cross of Alaska on social media:

Twitter: @redcrossak

Facebook: @AlaskaRedCross


Alaska earthquake relief- thank you Red Cross donors

Red Cross of Alaska volunteer Terri Dennett prepares to open the Egan Center shelter Friday evening.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Southcentral Alaska Friday morning was an unsettling event for many Alaskans. The Red Cross has been working around the clock with our partners to assist in disaster response.

The American Red Cross mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.​

The acts of kindness we’ve witnessed over the past few days could not hold more true to our mission. Within hours of the earthquake, Alaskans sprung into action. From offers to supply monetary support, to individuals stepping up to volunteer, to local restaurants calling to supply food donations. The need is great but the love and support we have received has come through.

Since Friday evening the Red Cross has provided 182 overnight shelter stays, served 1,848 meals and snacks and mobilized over 60 volunteers to support our earthquake response. This operation has been made possible by the strong support of our donors. We have simply been overwhelmed with support and kindness since we began our disaster response operation.

Earthquake Relief Graphic_v2

No other organization can mobilize and scale up like the Red Cross. The earthquake that occurred Friday reminds us of the seriousness of where we live, and the importance of being ready when disaster strikes.

The Red Cross of Alaska would like to give our most sincere thanks to ExxonMobil, Teck Resources, AT&T, GCI , Fred Meyer, Alaska Federal Credit Union, Alyeska Pipeline,Wells Fargo, BP, KeyBank and ConocoPhillips Alaska  for your immediate financial support of the Red Cross of Alaska following Friday’s earthquake:

Teck Resources

Basic CMYK




exmo_red hi res HFC Partner



Fred Meyer

fred meyer logo

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union

Alaska USA

Alyeska Pipeline


Wells Fargo



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ConocoPhillips Alaska

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We are able to provide this much-needed help thanks to our donor support. Time after time, disaster after disaster, Red Cross of Alaska donors help us help people in need.

Thank you.

Impacted by the Earthquake? Take Care of Your Emotional Health

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Southcentral Alaska at 8:29 am on Friday, Nov. 30 was an unsettling event for many Alaskans. Hundreds of aftershocks, including several greater than 5.0 magnitude, have occurred since the initial earthquake. This is taking an emotional toll on people in the region and residents are on edge as they assess damage to home and property.

The American Red Cross of Alaska offers these steps for people to take care of their emotional health as well as that of their family and friends.


When you experience a disaster you may:

  • Feel physically and mentally drained
  • Have difficulty making decisions or staying focused on topics
  • Become easily frustrated on a frequent basis
  • Argue more with family and friends
  • Feel tired, sad, numb, lonely or worried
  • Experience changes in appetite or sleep patterns

Most of these reactions are temporary and will go away over time. Try to accept whatever reactions you may have. Look for ways to take one step at a time and focus on taking care of your disaster-related needs and those of your family.


  • Take care of your safety. Find a safe place to stay and make sure your physical health needs and those of your family are addressed. Seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Get some rest.
  • Stay connected with family and friends. Giving and getting support is one of the most important things you can do
  • Be patient with yourself and with those around you. Recognize that everyone is stressed and may need some time to put their feelings and thoughts in order.
  • Set priorities. Tackle tasks in small steps.
  • Gather information about assistance and resources that will help you and your family members meet your disaster-related needs.
  • Stay positive.


Many people typically feel better after a few days. Others find that their stress does not go away as quickly as they would like and it influences their relationships with their family, friends and others. If you find yourself or a loved one experiencing some of the feelings and reactions listed below for 2 weeks or longer, this may be a sign that you need to reach out for additional assistance:

  • Crying spells or bursts of anger
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Losing interest in things
  • Increased physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling guilty, helpless or hopeless
  • Avoiding family and friends


Children experience traumatic events differently. Experiencing a disaster can leave children feeling frightened, confused and insecure, particularly if this experience is not their first.

Because they can’t always talk about their worries, it sometimes comes out in a child’s behavior. Some may react immediately; others may be fine for weeks or months and then show troubling behavior. Knowing the signs that are common at different ages can help parents recognize problems and respond accordingly.

  • They may be more agitated or act out
  • They may be more clingy or cry often
  • They may need more attention or reassurance from adults they trust
  • Scary memories become attached to the sounds, sights and smells that happen at the time of the experience. It’s important to remind children that they are remembering the scary thing that happened; that it is not happening now.

Here are a few tips for talking to children after a traumatic event:

  • Provide children with opportunities to talk
  • Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers
  • Allow kids to discuss their fears and concerns
  • Answer questions appropriate for their age

For additional resources, contact your local Red Cross Disaster Mental Health or community mental health professional by visiting, or by reaching  out to the American Red Cross 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline for counseling or support at 1-800-985-5990 or by texting ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746.

Please seek immediate help if you or someone you know is feeling that life isn’t worth living or if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or

Quyanaq, Kaktovik! Red Cross of Alaska 3-Day Smoke Alarm Install Trip on the Arctic Slope

By Melanie Leydon/American Red Cross of Alaska

The American Red Cross of Alaska, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the Arctic Slope Community Foundation and the North Slope Borough recently joined forces to distribute smoke alarms and fire extinguishers throughout the village of Kaktovik, which is 90 miles west of the Canadian border and 280 miles southeast of Utqiagvik (previously known as Barrow). Kaktovik is home to over 280 people, many of whom are youth and elders, which are considered high-risk community members. Kaktovik is one of the northernmost communities in Alaska, residing along the edge of the 20-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The install effort was part of Sound the Alarm, an initiative within the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which aims to install free smoke alarms and provide home fire safety education to at-risk communities across the nation.

Suzanne, Jess and Chief Brower in Kaktovik
Pictured from left to right: Fire Chief Sheldon Brower, Disaster Action Team Captain Suzanne Eldridge and Jesuit Corps Volunteer Jessica Gillespie.


The installation team – comprised of Regional Philanthropy Officer, Melanie Leydon, Jesuit Corps Volunteer Jessica Gillespie and Disaster Action Team Captain Suzanne Eldridge – traveled from Anchorage to Deadhorse, and then from there took a small charter plane to Barter Island, where Kaktovik is located.

Our Sound the Alarm install, which was a 3-day event, started out in the blistering cold, as the 30 mph winds blew fresh snow all over the village. We were met by our critical community partner, City of Kaktovik Volunteer Fire Department Chief, Sheldon Brower.

With the help of community leader Chief Brower, we were able to enter most of the homes in Kaktovik and visit with residents. The Red Cross of Alaska was able to install 78 smoke alarms, making approximately 24 homes safer. We were also able to assist Chief Brower with installing over 19 fire extinguishers in homes with elderly residents. In addition to installing alarms, team members spoke to families about having an emergency escape plan in place.

Suzanne installing an alarm in Kaktovik with Chief Brower
Suzanne and Chief Brower install a 10-year lithium battery smoke alarm in a local resident’s home. 

Kaktovik elder and community leader, Fenton Rexford, caught up with the installation team on their way home from the Deadhorse airport and expressed his deep gratitude to the team for their efforts to keep his family and other community members safe. Rexford shares his home with another village elder, three children and two grandchildren.

“I slept incredibly well last night, knowing that our home had new working smoke alarms from the Red Cross of Alaska,” he said.

On average, seven people in the United States are killed in home fires every day and another 36 are injured. Nationwide, the American Red Cross responds to almost 64,000 disasters each year, the vast majority of which are home fires.

The Red Cross of Alaska, through a generous grant from the Arctic Slope Community Foundation, has established a plan to install approximately 400 smoke alarms in four Arctic Slope region communities. In partnership with the North Slope Borough Fire Department, a total of 700+ elders with homes in need of 10-year lithium smoke alarms have been identified. So far, 100 smoke alarms have been installed in 34 homes in Anaktuvuk Pass, 72 alarms in 22 homes in Atqasuk, 67 alarms in 19 homes in Point Lay, and 79 alarms have been installed in 23 homes in Kaktovik.

Red Crossers will additionally “train the trainers” in Arctic Slope communities so that the designated local contacts are trained in Red Cross smoke alarm installation procedures. These community contacts will then be prepared to install the additional alarms that may be made available from sources outside of the Red Cross in the future.

Polar bears in Kaktovik
The installation team spotted several polar bears during their visit to the community of Kaktovik.

If you would like to partner with the Red Cross of Alaska to install smoke alarms in your community, or if you are interested in having a smoke alarm installed in your home free of charge, please visit or call your local Red Cross of Alaska office.

The Red Cross of Alaska would like to thank the North Slope Borough, the Arctic Slope Community Foundation and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation for making valuable installation and community outreach opportunities, such as this one, possible.

Don’t Miss These Year-end Tax Deadlines

It’s easy to get caught up in both the joys and obligations of the holidays between the party frenzy and the nonstop shopping! Don’t let the hectic season stop you from making a real difference today and support a cause you believe in.  Your charitable donation to the American Red Cross of Alaska ensures we are there to help those affected by disasters large and small. Although motivations for charitable giving are primarily altruistic, there can also be some great tax benefits for those who give. However, to receive those benefits, timing your gift at year-end can be crucial. The gift date – the date used for tax purposes – is the day you transfer control of the asset. And that depends on the asset and your method of giving.  Read below to make sure you keep in mind how a simple date could affect you.

How the Gift Date is Determined:

  • Checks — The USPS mailing date, as postmarked, is the date of the gift.
  • Credit cards — The day the charge is posted by the credit card company is considered the gift date.
  • Pledges — Pledges are deductible in the years they are fulfilled and not the year the initial pledge is made.
  • Securities — If securities are electronically transferred to the American Red Cross, the gift date is typically the day the securities enter our account. If security certificates are mailed, the mailing date, as postmarked, is the gift date. It is important to send, by registered or certified mail, the unsigned certificates in a separate envelope from the signed stock power and letter indicating the purpose of your gift.
  • Real estate—The day you deliver the signed deed to us is the date of the gift. If your state law requires recording of the deed to fulfill the title, though, then the date of recording is the gift date.
  • Tangible personal property—The gift date is the day you deliver the property with a signed document transferring ownership, if necessary.
  • Charitable IRA Rollover – The Charitable IRA Rollover has been a popular option for friends of the American Red Cross, who are 70½ or older, to transfer up to $100,000 directly from an IRA to the Red Cross, without having to declare the funds as taxable income. Your IRA administrator must initiate the rollover. Speak with your CPA or other advisor to determine if an IRA Charitable Rollover is the right choice for you.

As you decide how best to fulfill your year-end gift to the American Red Cross, please take into consideration the time needed by brokerage firms and fund administrators to process your requests.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Carol Eames at 503-528-5441 or via email at Thank you for supporting the American Red Cross of Alaska!

This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.

Photo credit: Ralph Radford/American Red Cross


Highlighting our Veterans: Red Cross Volunteers, Staff & Board Members


Kathy Hamby



Red Cross volunteer Kathy Hamby is a veteran of the Air Force and the Air National Guard.  She served for almost thirty years as a medical technician and in medical administration; many years were served as the lead Medical Technician for the 168th Medical Squadron, located at Eielson AFB.  Kathy has the distinguished honor of being the first female Chief Master Sgt for the 168th Air Refueling Group. Kathy feels that one of her greatest accomplishments was building the medical squadron from a one position staff to a full squadron, fully integrated into the active duty mission of Eielson AFB.

Kathy works as Misty Bruce’s Volunteer Partner for Services to the Armed Forces in the Far North and Interior district of the Red Cross of Alaska.  Kathy’s primary focus is building a fully functioning cadre of volunteers to augment the military medical mission at Ft Wainwright, Eielson AFB and Ft Greely. Her duties as a Volunteer Partner help to grow programming and mission breadth. Kathy feels truly blessed that she gets to help people seeking to give back to the community, work with a wonderful active duty team, and provide program support throughout the Far North and Interior. Thank you for your service and continued support of our Armed Forces, Kathy!

Rita Conley



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Rita Conley was a service member in the US Air Force for 21.5 years. She has been a veteran for 11 years, and has now been a Red Crosser for 1 year!

Starting with basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX, Rita then moved to Wright Patterson AFB in Greene County, Ohio, where she worked in the first computer store in the Air Force. Then, she went on to Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan, later, she moved to McChord AFB in Pierce County, Washington, then on to Osan Air Base in South Korea, then back to McChord AFB, and finally to Andersen AFB in Guam, where she retired in 2007.

2007 was a big year for Rita in a lot of ways, as she also married another service member in Guam. Her husband came into the service in 1998 in civil engineering and also followed a path that took him around the world, from Eielson AFB to Osan Air Base, then on to McChord AFB (where he and Rita’s paths crossed), back to Osan Air Base, then to Andersen AFB, to Minot AFB, back to Andersen AFB, to Mountain Home AFB, back to Osan Air Base once more, and finally, to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where he and Rita currently reside.

“Growing up, Veterans Day was a day we reflected on our families – my dad, stepdad and uncles were all in the service,” she said. “I reflect back on those who’ve given their lives for us, and for the United States. I’m proud to have served.”

Rita got involved with the Red Cross in September 2017 after moving to JBER in Alaska. She needed something to occupy her time, and the Red Cross was a natural fit for her. In fact, while she was serving in the Air Force, she received an emergency message regarding a family member while in Saudi Arabia, and her daughter – who served in the Air Force for 8 years as well – received one while serving in South Korea during the passing of her grandmother.

Rita started out as general volunteer at the hospital on JBER, but soon after started doing Hero Care, and then started taking on casework. In just one year, Rita’s historical knowledge allows her to support current service members through the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) programs, and she’s moved from a Hero Care caseworker to the lead Hero Care caseworker for the entire state, and she now also supports the Military Entrance Processing Station by conducting “Get to Know Us” briefings, she conducts pre-deployment briefings for service members, not to mention various SAF events that happen statewide. This has been an evolving journey for Rita, as she has progressed with many different opportunities within the Red Cross. Thank you, Rita!


Shayne Jones



Shayne Jones, Disaster Program Manager for the Far North & Interior, served in the U.S. Army National Guard from April 1987 to February 1989. He then joined as an Active Duty service member for the US Army in February 1989 and retired on November 30, 2017. He served in combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Desert Storm. He served in numerous positions of leadership and multiple locations throughout the world – Germany and England were his favorite places to serve. Some of Shayne’s military awards include Combat Infantryman’s Badge Second Award, the Legion of Merit Medal, Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal for Valor and multiple other awards and decorations. Shayne joined the Red Cross after his retirement from the Army because he is mission-minded and still sought the opportunity to serve the community. Thank you, Shayne for your continuing service!

Andrew Bogar



Andrew Bogar, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Alaska serving the Southeast, first started with the Red Cross in a part-time capacity as a Disaster Program Specialist in Fairbanks.  Following many years spent serving his country, Andrew added the Red Cross to his life story four years ago. He was in the U.S. Navy from 2002 until 2009, where he started as a Master at Arms. Then, Andrew’s path led him to the U.S. Army, where he spent four years (from 2009 to 2012) as a Cavalry Scout. In 2012, Andrew joined the Alaska National Guard, where he continues his work as a scout to this day. Thank you, Andrew! Your dedication to this country and to the mission of the American Red Cross is inspiring!


Buddy Custard



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Red Cross of Alaska Board Chair-Elect Buddy Custard was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for 31 years. He spent over 12.5 years at sea and commanded four cutters throughout his career. When not at sea, he oversaw Coast Guard operations throughout the country and spent two tours at training centers teaching officer candidates and then as chief of the Coast Guard’s leadership programs. His last tour of duty was Chief of Staff for the Coast Guard Alaska District.

He was involved with the Red Cross over 30 years ago teaching CPR and First Aid classes, and he also worked with the Red Cross during many disaster responses (hurricane, flooding, and earthquake relief efforts) throughout his career. Buddy has also been a Board Member with the Red Cross of Alaska since 2015.

“I grew up in a military family,” he said. “My dad and grandfather were career U.S. Army officers; both are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. It was a distinct honor and privilege to serve our country.”

Above, are several pictures of Buddy throughout the years. In one of the photos, you’ll find him inspecting Coast Guard forces assigned to safeguard the oil platforms off Iraq, near Iran. Several are from Buddy’s retirement ceremony in 2012. Additionally, there is a picture of him and his wife Trish during the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Red Cross in Alaska, held in Juneau in 2017.


The Red Cross provides care and comfort to the members of the United States Armed Forces and their families. To learn a little bit about how we support the Armed Forces, visit:


Wildfires Again Bring Devastation to California: Red Cross of Alaska Responds

By Lisa Miller/American Red Cross

Watching the tragic stories unfold of individuals fleeing the wildfires in California is heartbreaking. From people abandoning their vehicles in bumper to bumper traffic to flee the flames on foot, to the devastating views of entire towns destroyed. The news over the weekend has been devastating.

And the horror of these fires is not over.

Deadly wildfires continue to burn out of control in northern and southern California. Hundreds of thousands have evacuated.

I am grateful even more so on this Tuesday morning for my health and safety. But if you’re like me, you can’t sit back and watch.

Your Red Cross of Alaska region is your direct connection to help these folks experiencing complete desolation. We have already sent a total of five volunteers from the Red Cross of Alaska over the weekend down to help in Red Cross shelters across California, and I suspect that number will quickly rise this week.

Red Cross volunteers and staff from around the country are on the ground working with partners to provide shelter, food and comfort.

Arial View - CA Wildfire 1
An aerial view shows the widespread destruction wrought by wildfires across southern California on Nov. 9, 2018.  Photo Credit: Cari Dighton/American Red Cross

High winds and dry weather continue and could help these fires spread. There is also a danger of new fires sparking.

Northern California

  • The Camp Fire has burned more than 113,000 acres and already destroyed more than 6,400 homes.
  • The fire is now only 30% contained and is threatening 15,000 more homes.
  • The Camp Fire is the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California history.

Southern California

  • The Hill and Woosley fires are threatening communities west of Los Angeles.
  • The largest, the Woolsey Fire, has burned more than 93,000 acres and has already destroyed some 430 homes with 57,000 structures still threatened.
  • It is just 30% contained.

Red Cross volunteers are supporting evacuation centers to provide safe refuge for those impacted. We are committed to helping those in need and people are welcome to come to shelters for help even if they don’t stay overnight.     

Woolsey Fire 2018 2
A woman watches the latest news from her cot at the Pierce Jr. College sub-shelter #3 – affectionately called the “quiet room.” The Woolsey Canyon fire started mid-day November 8, 2018 has burned more than 93,000 acres and put 250,000 people under mandatory evacuations. Photo Credit: Roxanne Schorbach/American Red Cross

Our Service Delivery

  • Overnight, more than 1,000 people sought refuge from the wildfires in 12 Red Cross and community evacuation centers across the state.
  • People are relying on Red Cross reunification services, including use of the Safe and Well website. There are just over 5,700 Safe and Well registrations for the wildfires, as many as 63,600 searches, and more than 1100 matches through Safe and Well.
  • Today, more than 500 Red Cross disaster workers are helping to support people affected by the wildfires in California.
  • Working with partners, the Red Cross has served more than 24,000 meals and snacks.
  • Volunteer mental health and health services professionals have provided more than 3,560 contacts to provide support and care to evacuees.
  • We’ve distributed more than 8,260 relief items for people forced from their homes.

Will you help provide comfort to those who need it most?

You can help people affected by disasters like wildfires and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small:

Cover photo: Evacuees of the Woolsey Fire settle down for a long night in the “South Gym”, one of three shelter locations on the Pierce Jr. College campus. Credit: Roxanne Schorbach/American Red Cross

Red Cross of Alaska Service to the Armed Forces program to support local veterans at 2018 VA Stand Down event

Walmart LogoRichardson Spouses Club Logo 2Alaska Regional Hospital Logo

Through the support of the Richardson Spouse’s Club, Walmart Supercenter #2188 in Eagle River and #2071 Anchorage, and Alaska Regional Hospital, the American Red Cross of Alaska Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program will be able to provide critical assistance to veterans when they need it most.

The Richardson Spouses’ Club donated $1,000 to support the Red Cross at this year’s VA Stand Down event. Donations for medical care kits were also generously donated by Alaska Regional Hospital, and Walmart provided enough supplies to stock 100 comfort kits. Donated items include:

  • Ace bandages
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Gauze
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Hand warmers
  • Travel-sized shampoo
  • Bar soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush cap
  • Small toothpaste
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • SPF 30 sunscreen
  • Comb
  • Pack of tissues
  • Women’s personal hygiene items
  • Washcloth
  • Bath towel
  • Poncho

About VA Stand Down

The VA Stand Down event will take place on Friday, October 19 from 8:30 am – 2:00 pm at the North Terminal of the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage.

  • Doors will open for registration at 8:30 am. Registrants must bring a DD214, VA Card or Military ID.
  • The opening ceremony will take place at 11:00 am.
  • There will be free continental breakfast, coffee, and lunch available. Lunch will be served from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm.
  • Registrants will be able to visit with over 50 service providers, including a community of care not limited to medical, legal, housing, employment and veterinary services.

Event Transportation Options

Princess Cruises will be offering free shuttles at the following locations:

  • Northway Mall to North Terminal: Pick-ups begin at 8:00am and will continue on the hour and will return back to mall on the half hour. The last pick up will be at 1:00 pm.
  • VA Domiciliary (3001 C Street) to North Terminal: Pick-ups will begin at 8:30 am and will continue on the half hour, with returns back to Domiciliary on the hour. The last pick-up will take place at 12:30 pm.

The Municipality of Anchorage is also providing free bus rides for veterans on the People Mover all day with a valid veteran’s ID. Bus number 40 serves the North Terminal of the airport.

About Red Cross of Alaska Services to the Armed Forces (SAF)

The SAF program dates back to the establishment of the American Red Cross by Clara Barton in May 1881. Not only did the “Angel of the Battlefield” risk her life tending to soldiers wounded in the Civil War, she bolstered their morale by writing letters for them to send to their families. Today’s American Red

Cross workers proudly carry on this tradition through the SAF program, which serves as a critical line of communication between the U.S Armed Forces and their families.

The Red Cross of Alaska has SAF offices located on Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Ft. Wainwright, Bassett Army Hospital, Eielson Air Force Base, and Fort Greely, and is staffed by Red Cross employees and volunteers. However, SAF is available to assist service members, veterans and military families in every corner of Alaska, including all National Guard, Reserve and Coast Guard installations.

From July 2017 to June 2018, the Red Cross of Alaska:

  • Taught 157 people to through Resiliency Workshops, which are designed to help families reconnect or work through the challenges and demands of military life.
  • Made 3,803 SAF contacts, including emergency messages & urgent news delivered to service members and families during emergencies, including births, deaths, serious illness and injury to immediate family members. In the event that a service member needs emergency communication services, the Red Cross has volunteer caseworkers who are trained to intake, verify and deliver these messages.
  • Briefed 11,894 individuals through the SAF ‘Get to Know Us’ program. These briefings are provided at local events both on and off military installations.