West Central Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross Executive Director Derek Stemen addresses a group of business people Friday morning. The Red Cross estimates a need of $10,000 to be able to provide the resources for families affected by Wednesday’s tornadoes. (DHI Media/Erin Cox)
West Central Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross Executive Director Derek Stemen addresses a group of business people Friday morning. The Red Cross estimates a need of $10,000 to be able to provide the resources for families affected by Wednesday’s tornadoes. (DHI Media/Erin Cox)
BY ERIN COX

DHI Media News Editor

ecox@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT — Now that the damage from Wednesday’s four tornadoes has been assessed, the West Central Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross is coming together to raise funds to be able to fulfill the needs of those affected by the tornadoes.

“It has been a crazy time for us at the Red Cross over the last 36 hours,” West Central Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross Executive Director Derek Stemen said. “We’ve been responding to tornado disaster all throughout the area.

“A part of the mission at the Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency and I can’t think of a time that it’s more true in our area than right now,” he added as he addressed a group of businesspeople at a Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce event Friday morning.

The Red Cross sent out disaster teams after the storms settled to provide disaster assistance, assess the disaster area and work with emergency management professionals to find where the most need was.

“Yesterday (Thursday) was really all about disaster assessment because we weren’t able to get out as quickly as we would have liked to in most situations because of that second line of storms that was coming through and then it was the middle of the night,” Stemen explained.

Stemen noted there were between five to six families in Van Wert County that had damage to their properties and that number was the same in about three or four counties throughout the area. The hardest hit areas were Van Wert and Defiance counties.

“Obviously as all of us are aware in Van Wert County, this could’ve been much worse, we recognize that,” Stemen said. “We’re thankful that the damage was minimal, but I do want you to know that there were still families affected. We’re working with them to provide mental health resources. We’re also working with them to provide assistance as well.”

The Red Cross is looking for businesses and individuals to partner with to provide resources to the affected families.

“There is a financial need,” he said. “Right now we’re continuing to do disaster assessment, so we don’t know the exact figure to give you, but I can tell you the cost is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000.”

The Red Cross sends out its disaster teams when the need arises, provides canteen services to first responders and meets with families to assess their needs.

“We actually have client case workers that will work with them throughout the entire process, even contact their insurance companies, medical providers to be able to get any medication that they might need, and we provide food clothing and shelter to those families whose homes may be livable, or may not be livable, and we have a little bit of both,” Stemen said of what they are looking to provide to the area residents affected by the tornadoes.