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Bug scare displaces women, children from shelter

September 10, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --Nearly 30 women and children displaced from an emergency shelter in Martinsburg for two nights this week because of a bug scare were allowed to return to the shelter Thursday morning.

Community Networks Inc. Executive Director Glenda Helman said two bugs were found in one bed and one bug was found in another bed after one of women sheltered at the facility reported being bitten.

"They thought it may have been a flea," Helman said of the woman's initial report.

After talking with a pest control company that she had fumigate and fog the shelter, Helman said she believes the critters were bed bugs.

The 12 women and 16 children who were displaced spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights in a motel before being allowed to return to the shelter at about 10 a.m. Thursday, Helman said.

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While "it was a huge disruption to the shelter," Helman said she wanted to be proactive in responding to any concern of the potential for a bug infestation.

Helman, who has directed Community Networks' Bethany House program for nearly eight years, said she has never experienced such a situation at the shelter before.

In addition to the shelter, Community Networks, a nonprofit, United Way-supported organization, operates a transitional housing program and a housing program for those with HIV or AIDS.

Helman said the expense of the emergency was nothing to simply dismiss, especially given the downturn in the economy and subsequent decline in available grant funding.

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