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NEWS

Red Cross response in Midwest shifts as power is restored
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Brooke Ray
 
December 8, 2006

A week after a massive winter storm swept through the Midwest, 19,000 homes and businesses in Illinois and 6,000 in Missouri remain without power, down from more than 500,000 homes at the peak of outages.

Missouri National Guard members work with the American Red Cross to provide assistance at shelter in North St. Louis City, Mo., Dec. 4, 2006. (Photo Credit: Phyllis Oppliger/American Red Cross)
Missouri National Guard members work with the American Red Cross to provide assistance at shelter in North St. Louis City, Mo., Dec. 4, 2006.
(Photo Credit: Phyllis Oppliger/American Red Cross)

The combination of low temperatures, downed power lines, ice-covered poles and brittle tree limbs have hampered restoration and repair efforts. More 7,000 utility field personnel, including crews from 14 states, are working to restore power.

The St. Louis Area Chapter closed its last remaining large full-service emergency shelters yesterday as it is no longer needed. The chapter will continue to assist people who remain without power on an individual basis.

In the six days following the storm, the Red Cross sheltered 1,323 people and served more than 13,600 meals and snacks in five emergency shelters that were opened to accommodate residents during extended power outages.

Like the Loane family in St. Louis, Missouri resident Mollie Kondraski found respite from the cold at a Red Cross shelter in Florissant, Mo., Dec. 4, 2006. (Photo Credit: Phyllis Oppliger/American Red Cross)
Like the Loane family in St. Louis, Missouri resident Mollie Kondraski found respite from the cold at a Red Cross shelter in Florissant, Mo., Dec. 4, 2006.
(Photo Credit: Phyllis Oppliger/American Red Cross)

The Red Cross partnered with emergency management officials, the National Guard and many local municipalities and agencies to provide assistance, including the Southern Baptist Missouri Convention, which prepared as many as 1,000 meals per day. In addition, St. Louis-based Monsanto Company donated $100,000 to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts.

The Loane family of St. Louis sought refuge at a Red Cross shelter in Florissant, Mo., for three nights. Mother, Grace Loane and her children, were asleep in the shelter Monday night when her husband learned that power had been restored to their home. Mrs. Loane decided to keep the family in the shelter until morning.

“We are comfortable here and the kids have had a nice time,” she said.

For the Loane family, which includes the two working parents and six kids with another on the way, there was no where to go when the power went out. The Red Cross provided a safe place of respite from the cold. Not only was it safe, but according to daughter, Theresa, 7, it was fun, too.

“I’ve had a really good time here,” she said. “I like the arts and crafts and playing in the gym.”

Red Cross volunteers prepare dinner for Missouri shelter guests on Monday, Dec. 4, 2006. (Photo Credit: Phyllis Oppliger/American Red Cross)
Red Cross volunteers prepare dinner for Missouri shelter guests on Monday, Dec. 4, 2006.
(Photo Credit: Phyllis Oppliger/American Red Cross)

More than 160 Red Cross volunteers have helped with emergency needs that include shelter, food and health services. In addition to operating full-service shelters, more than 50 Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers have provided assistance including shelter, food, clothing, health services, blankets and hygiene items to more than 120 people impacted by more than 30 fires.

The Red Cross continues to assist individuals who are affected by the power outages until all immediate emergency needs are met.

Brooke Ray is an American Red Cross employee with the St. Louis Area Chapter. Phyllis Oppliger was a St. Louis Area Chapter volunteer.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS 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.


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