Mother Nature buried parts of the Northeast under more than a foot of snow over the weekend, leaving thousands without heat and power with bitter cold temperatures and gale force winds dropping the temperatures in their darkened homes very quickly.
Donna Morrissey, communications director, American Red Cross Blood Services, Northeast Division, rode out the storm at her home in Brewster, Massachusetts. She reports power is slowly being restored and the main highways are cleared, but side roads are still snow covered, trees are down and many are still waiting for the lights to go back on.
“We’re used to this weather here in New England,” she said. “But the heavy snow, the bitter cold and the strong winds were frightening. Many tried staying in their homes, which they were able to stand for a little while. Some were hesitant to leave their pets. But many eventually made their way to our Red Cross shelters, if only to get warm, eat something and charge their cell phones.”
In the northeast, as many as 1,500 people sought warmth and refuge in 32 shelters across four states after the massive winter storm cut off power to thousands.
Shirley Glasser recently retired and made her home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Her son and his family live in Australia. She was one who tried to stay in her home only to be evacuated by the fire department and bused to the Red Cross shelter at Nauset High School. She was speaking to her son when the evacuation occurred and had been unable to contact him since then. Morrissey was able to email the family in Australia and let them know Glasser was safe and warm with the Red Cross.
Kemesha Edwards and her daughter Mikealah took shelter from the storm at a Red Cross shelter in Yarmouth. They left their apartment when the temperature dropped to 54 degrees inside. It’s not home, but Edwards said it’s “warm and comfy” at the shelter.
“People are caring for each other,” Morrissey said. “But they are weary after three or four days of this. They’re shoveling out and the snow is heavy with an icy covering which makes using equipment like snowblowers difficult. The Red Cross is working with local Emergency Management officials and partners to make sure people get the help they need. I’ve seen people with medical needs, special needs, children forced out of their homes. There’s a real sense of community.”
If someone would like to help people affected by emergencies like this, they can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
Photo caption: Kemesha Edwards & daughter Mikealah of Hyannis take refuge at a Red Cross shelter in Yarmouth, Massachusetts.