The Red Cross has closed the last of its six shelters that opened to aid victims of last week’s ice storm. The final shelter, located at Elementary Middle School in Ellsworth, closed at 2 p.m. today.
The Ellsworth shelter, combined with those in Augusta, Belfast, Brewer, Calais, and Lewiston, logged 255 overnight stays, served 1,600 meals and snacks, and provided nearly 450 health services and mental health contacts. Nearly 60 Mainers spent their Christmas in a Red Cross shelter.
Other residents who lost power stopped by for a shower, hot meal, or to charge their cell phones.
“This was one of the largest disaster responses we’ve had in the state,” says Pat Murtagh, CEO of the Red Cross of Maine. “In addition to our Maine-based volunteers and employees, we brought in additional volunteers from Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts to help operate the shelters, which were open 24/7.”
There was no charge to stay or eat at the shelter, and people made the best of the situation by crafting decorations or watching holiday movies. “A shelter resident in Belfast said that — even more important than the hot meals — she was grateful to be with others, and not alone in a cold house,” says Murtagh.
Mainers who want to help support the Red Cross efforts can make a donation at www.RedCross.org, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. A monetary donation, rather than clothing or other items, allows the Red Cross to purchase specific items needed by people it assists across the state.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/me.