Area emergency personnel to assist with relief

August 30, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM


Emergency management personnel in Washington County watched weather reports Monday, monitoring Hurricane Katrina's progress and speculating about any effects nearby. Others in the Tri-State area prepared to gather supplies for what is expected to be a large-scale relief effort.

Pat Mayhew, owner of VIP Mobility in Hagerstown, said he hopes to take several vans filled with supplies to hurricane victims.

"The idea is to get down some products that can be used directly by refugees before they have to go to the (shelters)," Mayhew said.


He and other volunteers are hoping to collect bottled water, baby supplies, sanitation supplies, cleaning products, paper products, energy drinks, cereal, energy bars, powdered milk, chain saws, dry pet food and other items, Mayhew said.

The Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross was preparing Monday for the departure of its emergency response vehicle, which was scheduled to depart for Arkansas early this morning, said Cindy Blackstock, director of emergency services. The vehicle will distribute hot meals to people in need. The large box truck allows volunteers to distribute 1,000 meals each day.

Blackstock said she is not sure which region the vehicle will be sent to after arriving in Arkansas, one of the disaster relief staging areas.

"Right now, it is really the focus of the Red Cross, as well as other agencies, to make sure people are safe," she said. "As time goes on throughout the week, we will be looking at damage assessment and meeting the needs other than just feeding their stomachs."

No Washington County Red Cross volunteers are scheduled to travel south, but Blackstock said that could change in the next few weeks.

"They are ready to go," she said of the volunteers.

Several people from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia are scheduled to travel to the hurricane-stricken area to offer assistance, said Katherine Dunbar, director of the American Red Cross chapters in Jefferson County and Morgan County.

One is departing today and two are traveling to the area Thursday, Dunbar said.

As of Monday, Dunbar said her group had no plans for sending any supplies to the area.

Janet Diller, executive director of the Franklin County (Pa.) Chapter of the Red Cross, said residents have been calling to see how they can be of assistance to hurricane victims. She called that reaction, "very typical of this area."

Those interesting in making monetary contributions may do so online at or they may mail a check to the Chambersburg office and it will be forwarded to the national organization, she said. The chapter's address is 25 Penncraft Ave., Chambersburg, PA 17201.

Diller said the American Red Cross had not made any requests for the chapter to send any personnel to aid in the disaster relief effort.

Jerry Flasher, Franklin County's director of emergency services, said neither the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency had put out any calls for emergency personnel to assist in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

About 90 Allegheny Energy employees were sent to Florida last week to assist with 1.5 million reported power outages - a result of Katrina, spokesman Allen Staggers said.

"We may well have problems in parts of our service area," he said. "We'll be watching to see what the storm does in the next 90 hours."

Verna Brown, emergency management coordinator for Washington County, said there has been no request for area emergency personnel to assist with disaster relief.

"We're really just keeping our eyes on it and making sure we have our own resources in tact and what their request will be and how we'll be impacted," she said.

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