Herald JournalHerald and Journal, July 1, 2002

Red Cross sets up shelter at St. James church

By Lynda Jensen

The American Red Cross set up a shelter at St. James Lutheran Church of Howard Lake as soon as it received notice of the flooding in the early morning hours Tuesday morning, said Tammy Luhman of the Wright County Chapter of the Red Cross.

Several victims from the Howard Lake trailer court initially took refuge at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School, which sustained water damage itself, before taking shelter at the St. James Church.

Red Cross volunteers sheltered 12 people overnight Wednesday, and 25 people during the course of that day, Luhman said. These numbers fluctuate each day and night with flood victims, she said.

The Salvation Army joined forces with the Red Cross Wednesday to help feed victims through the week. There were 100 meals served Wednesday at St. James, Luhman said.

Donations are asked

The Wright County Chapter of the Red Cross is asking for monetary donations for flood victims in the area.

Luhman assured potential donors that if they mark their donations for Wright County, or specifically the Howard Lake and Waverly recovery areas, that this money will be used for that intended purpose.

What the Red Cross does is satisfy the needs of victims locally, Luhman said, and then money left over ­ if any ­ is used for other disasters; some of which may not receive that much attention, making them hard to raise funds for.

Donations may be sent to:

Wright County Red Cross
PO Box 142
Buffalo, MN 55313

Luhman encouraged people to send cash and not to donate items that they think are needed, since it doesn't always match up.

Without donations, the Red Cross would be unable to help victims in Wright County, she said. "We wouldn't be able to do any of this," she said.

Traditionally, the Red Cross does not give cash disbursements toward disaster victims, since they offer services such as shelter, clothing, food, and other needs.

In fact, the Red Cross ended up bending their own rules for the September 11 attacks, since it ended up giving monetary donations toward the 9/11 victims, she said.

Individual Red Cross chapters do not receive money from national headquarters, Luhman said.

Shelter is focal point

The shelter became the coordinating point for disaster relief in Wright County, since Howard Lake and the surrounding area got the worst of the flooding compared to the rest of the county, Luhman said.

Several officials met Wednesday at St. James to discuss emergency plans including the sheriff's department, city officials, the Wright County Emergency Management Coordinator, the Wright County American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Wright County Community Action, and Catholic Charities.

It was noted that flooding reached other areas, including Annandale, Maple Lake, Montrose, Rockford, Delano, and Buffalo.

A mobile canteen to serve food to families and workers helping with the removal of water was established by the Red Cross as well.

The Salvation Army is serving meals at St. James for displaced families.

Central Minnesota Mental Health staff are available at the shelter to support those who have suffered losses and need help managing stress.

Wright County Public Health will provide written information about health risks associated with flooding and what to do.

Once Wright County is declared a disaster area Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff will become involved in taking applications for assistance from persons, businesses, and governments who sustained uninsured losses due to the flooding.

Call for information about assistance available from:

Wright County Financial Services and Public Health, 800-362-3667

Wright County Community Action, (320) 963-6500

Catholic Charities, 888-273-0445

Salvation Army Wright County Chapter, (763) 682-7523

Wright County Chapter of the Red Cross, (763) 684-0068.

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