Volunteers from the American Red Cross continue to operate shelters in Elma and Irving in response to this weeks’ devastating lake effect storm. Volunteers are providing food, water, cots, blankets and support to people at the following locations:
• Goodell Hall: 12847 Erie Street, Irving
• Iroquois Middle School: 211 Girdle Road, Elma
As state and local officials have begun to reopen the NYS Thruway and other roads, and begun to lift travel bans, the locations at the Alexander Fireman’s Recreation Hall, the Lackawanna Senior Center and the Ripley Fire Hall have been able to close. With the help of emergency officials and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), residents of the shelter at the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church have been transferred to the Iroquois Middle School. The Red Cross would like to thank all of these locations as well as emergency officials from across Western New York for their support during this response.
Staff and volunteers remain in contact with emergency officials from across Western New York, and additional shelter locations have been put on standby in anticipation of potential flooding in coming days. The Red Cross also continues to support relief operations being run by other organizations, including providing food, water, blankets and cots at Erie Community College North Campus to support visiting firefighters.
Although some roads have begun to reopen, residents are urged to continue to follow any posted road closures and travel advisories. The Red Cross urges caution as people begin digging out following this unprecedented snowfall. When shoveling, take frequent breaks to guard against over-exertion or back injury. If using a snow blower, keep hands and feet clear of moving parts. If there is a fire hydrant on the property, clear the snow around the hydrant so it is accessible in the event of fire. Additional winter storm safety tips are available at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm.
The Red Cross has Disaster Mental Health volunteers staffing each of their shelters to help people deal with the emotional aspect of this disaster. This is also a stressful time for many who have been forced to shelter in place due to this storm. The national Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 crisis counseling and emotional support for anyone experiencing distress related to natural disasters and emergencies. Calls (1-800-985-5990) and texts (text “TalkWithUs” to 66746; Spanish-speakers can text “Hablanos” to 66746) are answered by trained counselors from a network of centers across the U.S. Area residents with concerns regarding medication can call either 211 or 1-888-696-9211. Additional shelter in place and emergency preparedness tips are available at http://www.redcross.org/prepare.