Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Red Cross Shelter Remains Open in Response to Flash Floods

Now in its sixth day of operation, the American Red Cross shelter at the Barre Auditorium that opened last Thursday night remains open today. As of this morning, 29 shelter residents were being assisted. While this number is down from the approximately 170 that sought refuge in several Red Cross shelters on the night the flash flooding struck, the number was greater than Sunday evening after fears of landslides placed additional homes in jeopardy.

Shelter residents are trying to regain some sense of normalcy in their lives. This has been aided by local school buses adding the shelter as a pick up and drop off sight, ensuring kids are have a way to make it to school. At the shelter, parents are playing basketball with their kids and movies are available for viewing on a television that is on loan from a local merchant. Of course, meals, showers and other resources are also available to the shelter residents.

American Red Cross volunteers from throughout the Vermont & the New Hampshire Valley region have staffed the shelter 24 hours a day since its opening Thursday night. For residents at the shelter and out in the community, the Red Cross has made available comfort kits, providing basic items for hygiene, such as soap, a toothbrush, shampoo, a razor, etc.. Mobile Red Cross emergency vehicles have also driven through the most affected areas offering clean up kits, sandwiches, snacks and water. Clean up kits contain a mop, broom, sponges, a bucket, garbage bags, gloves, masks and other cleaning materials. To supplement the standard items of a clean up kit, volunteers have also been distributing rakes, shovels and hoses to aid homeowners in the clean up process.

The Red Cross continues to work with state and local officials, as well as volunteer organizations such as the Salvation Army and Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disasters (VOAD). These associations help in ways as diverse as assistance with the feeding operations at the shelter, to support for volunteer organizations who specialize in the muck out process, to making referrals for long-term assistance as the initial emergency needs of those displaced by the flooding become long-term needs.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost to those impacted by disaster. To help the victims of this and other disasters, contributions can be made to the American Red Cross at www.vermontredcross.org or 29 Mansfield Avenue, Burlington, VT 05401. Please specify “Disaster Relief” in the memo of your check. Also, the Red Cross encourages anyone interested in volunteering with American Red Cross Disaster Services and responding to incidents such as this one to contact their local Red Cross chapter.