Since heavy rains and massive flooding hit the Connellsville area Sunday night, the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania has assisted nearly 300 Fayette County residents. The Red Cross opened a service center on Monday at the Connellsville Township Volunteer Fire Department where volunteers have been meeting with a steady stream of residents seeking help. The service center, located at 905 Fireman St. in Connellsville Township, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will remain open daily until further notice.
As of the end of Wednesday, Aug. 31, 97 assistance cases have been opened by the Red Cross serving a total of 278 people.
Teams of staff and volunteers have been visiting the affected areas to distribute water, snacks and cleaning supplies with 223 snacks, 27 comfort kits and 142 clean-up kits distributed. A total of 1,412 items have been distributed since the start of the relief effort.
Red Cross volunteers have also been going door-to-door in the affected areas to survey and record damage to homes. As of yesterday, they found an estimated 135 homes had been affected by flood and storm damage with 47 percent of those considered to be destroyed along with homes sustaining major damage.
“The mission of the Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” said Dana Bauer, LSW, executive director of the American Red Cross of Chestnut Ridge, which covers Fayette County. “We’re gratified by the community support in people willing to volunteer as well as those making donations.”
Sue Fleming, the Red Cross community volunteer leader in Fayette County, has been working at the service center to offer assistance to residents and answer questions.
“The unprecedented flooding in Connellsville proves that disasters can happen anywhere, reinforcing the need for increased funding and many more volunteers in Fayette County,” she said.
Residents who have questions about Red Cross assistance can call 724-834-6510, option 1.
The Red Cross is also helping to organize a multi-agency resource center (MARC) in coordination with community agencies including the Connellsville Community Ministries. The MARC is a “one-stop shopping” event where affected residents can speak to a number of different service agencies in one location. The MARC will be held at the Connellsville Middle School this Friday, Sept. 2 and Saturday, Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about the MARC, residents can call the Connellsville Community Ministries at 724-626-1120.
Financial donations to Red Cross Disaster Relief will help support disasters big and small and can be sent to the American Red Cross of Chestnut Ridge, 137 N. Beeson Blvd., Suite 114, Uniontown, PA 15401.
The Red Cross offers the following safety tips to people in the flood-affected areas:
Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out.
If the power is out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator.
An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
Return home only when officials say it’s safe.
Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
Watch for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that could be in your neighborhood after flooding
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding, as well as locations of shelters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Parents can also download the Red Cross Monster Guard App for a fun way to teach children what to do in case of a flood or a hurricane.