Displaced by Friday’s quake, fifteen Anchorage residents spent Saturday night sleeping on cots in the Fairview Recreation Center gym. They were joined the next day by forty more seeking shelter, whose homes lacked power, running water, or both.
“The earthquake was an unsettling event for many Alaskans,” said Red Cross Regional Communications Officer Cari Dighton. “We have been working around the clock with our partners to assist in this disaster response.”
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck at 8:29 am on Friday. By five o’clock that evening, the Red Cross had welcomed residents to a shelter established at the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center in downtown Anchorage, the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla and the Chugiak Senior Center in Chugiak. All three shelters provided warm meals and safe places to sleep for those left with nowhere else to turn.
Long-time Red Cross volunteer Bruce Whelan worked the night shift at the Egan Center shelter.
“We had families showing up all through the night… people would come in [saying] ‘my house is cold, I can’t stay there,’” said Whelan. “We had 53 people there as of midnight, with about ten more showing up overnight.”
The shelter relocated on Saturday from the Egan Center to the Fairview Recreation Center in Anchorage. The emergency shelters in Wasilla and Chugiak closed as affected residents were able to return to their homes.
Since the quake, the Red Cross has provided 230 overnight stays among its four shelters. With partners like the Alaska Division of the Salvation Army, over 2,230 meals and snacks have been served. More than 70 Red Cross volunteers have tended to Red Cross shelters and assisted clients in a variety of ways, including through disaster health and mental health services, and through distribution of emergency supplies.
Volunteers David and Pam LaForest drove up from Soldotna to help out. “We expect to be here until Wednesday,” Dave said. “If anyone needs anything, we’re here with open doors and open arms.”
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