Over the weekend, the American Red Cross assisted thousands of people as a historic blizzard buried parts of the Northeast with several feet of snow. Sunday night, more than 1,500 people found comfort and warmth in 32 shelters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island after the massive snowstorm cut off power.
Shelters provide a safe place for residents where they can have a warm meal and recharge cell phones and other electronics until the power returns.
Disaster Hits Home for Red Cross Staff Member
Donna Morrissey, Red Cross Blood Services employee and disaster volunteer, has responded to emergencies across the country at a moment’s notice. Most recently, Morrissey responded in New York City in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and spent a week in Newtown Connecticut assisting in the community after the unimaginable school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
This past weekend, Morrissey was riding out the blizzard on Cape Cod when she and a colleague lost power.
“It was 45 degrees inside and we bundled up until it was safe to get on the road. We could see our breath in the air and all we could do was hunker down and wait,” said Morrissey. “When it was safe to do so we went to a shelter to get warm and have a bite to eat.”
Once at the Nauset High School Shelter, although a victim of the storm herself, she went to work, coordinating with emergency management and partner agencies to share information with affected residents and tell the Red Cross story.
“This week, my work came full circle when I personally felt the incredible reach of the American Red Cross firsthand,” said Morrissey.
Shelter Provides the Next Best Thing to Home
Arlene and Bob Williams of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts arrived at a shelter Saturday afternoon because they too, lost power. Bob has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a common lung disease, and relies on an oxygen tank to breathe. The couple was staying warm by their fireplace, but ran out of wood.
Bob was struggling to breathe so the fire department brought them to the shelter at Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School. "They (Red Cross) help you,” said Bob. “They're always there when you need them."
"It's not home, but it's the next best thing to home because it's so comfortable," added Arlene.
To find a Red Cross shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross website, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check local media outlets.
Snowed In? Follow Red Cross Safety Tips
The best thing people can do right now is listen to the advice of local officials and stay in a safe place until weather conditions improve and roads can be cleared. As Northeast residents dig their homes out from under the snow, the Red Cross has helpful safety tips for the tasks ahead.