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Red Cross wraps up work in Franklin Co.

July 13, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Laura DiPasqua was packing up Wednesday at Chambersburg Area Middle School, the last day of the American Red Cross service delivery site for victims of the flooding in late June.

"We actually provided services to about 155 families," said DiPasqua, who came to the area July 3 from the Greater Erie Chapter. That day, the first Red Cross mobile feeding units arrived, and they eventually served 800 or more meals a day to residents forced from their homes until utilities were restored and they could begin preparing their own meals again, she said.

Eight families whose homes were condemned because of flood damage have been put up in hotel rooms, DiPasqua said. Those families are being housed by the Red Cross until federal assistance is available, she said.

Other assistance included cleanup kits to help flood victims sanitize their homes, DiPasqua said. Evonne Cooke, a disaster services human resources worker with the Red Cross, said the organization helped with providing bedding and clothing to victims and referrals to human services agencies to meet other needs.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is setting up a Disaster Recovery Center in Franklin County, which could be in operation as early as Friday, county officials said Tuesday.

"I wish we had these people here on a permanent basis," Franklin County Emergency Services Director Jerry Flasher said Wednesday.

The response from the Red Cross and FEMA has been the best he has experienced in 30 years, he said.

The Red Cross had 30 people in Franklin County, DiPasqua said. Cooke, who came from Michigan, will remain here for at least another week to work with the county chapter in directing people to other assistance and services, she said.

"Register, register, register with FEMA," was Cooke's advice for people who experienced flood damage.

Flasher said the county is using its Reverse 911 system to call county residents with recorded messages urging them to apply to FEMA for assistance.

The toll-free number for FEMA is 1-800-621-3362, or people can apply online at www.fema.gov.

When applying, people should be ready to provide their Social Security number, a telephone number, current mailing address, the address of the damaged property, a brief description of the damage and insurance information.

Those who apply will eventually be scheduled for an appointment with a FEMA inspector to assess the damage.

DiPasqua, who has been with the Red Cross seven years, said her next stop is Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for possible assignment to another flood-damaged part of the state.

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