Over the weekend, the American Red Cross provided shelter and emotional support in Aurora following the tragic shooting Friday at an Aurora theater. As of Sunday, July 22, the Red Cross shelter has closed.
HELPING THE COMMUNITY
In the immediate hours after the shooting, local authorities called the Red Cross to help provide assistance. The Red Cross deployed disaster mental health workers and a mobile feeding vehicle with snacks and water to Gateway High School to support evacuees from the scene of the shooting.
When it was discovered on Friday that the assailant's apartment on Paris Street in Aurora had explosive devices, the Red Cross opened and operated a shelter at Aurora Central High School to provide a safe place to stay, hot meals, mental health support and comfort for the residents evacuated from the apartment building and surrounding buildings. Sixteen evacuees stayed over night at the shelter Friday night.
At 12:45 a.m. Saturday morning, the Red Cross shelter was expanded when families from an unrelated, multi-unit apartment fire in Aurora were evacuated. A dozen people displaced by the apartment fire stayed over night at the shelter.
Additional evacuations were ordered on Saturday as police prepared to enter the shooter's apartment, and two bus loads of evacuees cameto the Red Cross shelter for a cool, safe place to stay, meals, snacks and comfort from mental health and health workers. In total, the Red Cross served approximately 100 residents in need of a safe haven at the site.More than 20 Red Cross volunteers helped comfort and care for their neighbors in their time of need.
By Saturday evening, all but residents of one building were allowed to return to their homes; dinner was served at the shelter before buses took residents back home. A number of residents affected by the unrelated apartment fire were still in need of housing, and Red Cross volunteers worked with them to provide several days' lodging. The shelter closed at noon on Sunday, July 22.
CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER
A terrible event like this affects the entire community, especially the families and friends of the victims. This can be an emotional time, and it’s important for people affected by this tragedy to connect with and support each other.
Dr. Dan Mosely, a mental health expert from the Denver area who volunteers with the Red Cross, offered the following advice to help affected children cope in the aftermath, “Let them talk about their fears. Reassure them that they are safe. Get back to a routine.”
It has already been a difficult summer for people in the state of Colorado, after extensive wildfires burned hundreds of homes near the cities of Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. This is a time where people should take care of themselves and their families. For example, coping individuals can try to surround themselves with people and activities that comfort them, and should be careful not to overexpose themselves to media reports about the tragedy.
For more information, read tips from the Red Cross on caring for your emotional health.
The Red Cross supplied a small number of blood products to two hospitals treating victims of the shooting and is on standby should additional blood be needed. The Red Cross is not scheduling special drives to support the blood needs of the shooting victims. In Colorado, people who would like to donate blood can schedule appointments through www.bonfils.org.
The Red Cross is not seeking donations in response to this devastating tragedy in the Aurora community. The greatest need for those involved in this tragedy is emotional support, which the Red Cross and partnering agencies are providing through mental health counseling.
However, the Red Cross always needs support for our ongoing disaster response efforts throughout Colorado; you can donate to support disaster relief by visiting www.coloradoredcross.org/donate or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.