Toledoan goes south to help

Volunteer heads to storm-damaged Alabama

5/2/2014
BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lemke
Lemke

A Toledo native will head out toward the Birmingham, Ala., area today to help organize other American Red Cross volunteers from across the country who are assisting victims of a tornado and flash flooding.

Kimberly Lemke — the only Red Cross volunteer from northwest Ohio going to the disaster area — will be coordinating the intake of agency staff and volunteers arriving at the scene, said Amanda Aldrich, a spokesman for the Northwest Ohio Region American Red Cross. Storms that hit the Birmingham area caused widespread damage.

Ms. Lemke and others will join more than 125 Red Cross workers who were in Alabama on Thursday, providing shelter, meals, and supplies to those affected.

“We do staffing,” she said. “We make sure we know where everybody is, that everybody has a place to stay, and that they get to the right places where they can help the most.”

Ms. Lemke, a merchandising coordinator at a chain retail store in Toledo, said she had volunteered for the Red Cross disaster services program after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and has taken multiple classes in the time since.

Her job experience helps with such volunteer work, she said, because she works with the public daily.

“If it wasn’t for volunteers like Kim, we wouldn’t be able to provide our services the way we do,” Ms. Aldrich said. “Our volunteers are definitely our best asset.”

Ms. Lemke said her daughter, Brittany Lemke, 25, of Toledo also volunteers for the Red Cross.

“She likes helping people,” the older Ms. Lemke said. “I [volunteer] for the same reason.”

About 280 people spent Wednesday night in 25 Red Cross shelters in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee because of tornado damage and flooding, according to the Red Cross.

Those wishing to give to American Red Cross Disaster Relief may go online to redcross.org, call 1-800-733-2767, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.