Local response to Alberta crisis

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Red Cross spearheading flood response

Red Cross volunteer Bev Cooke (left) and Amherst service centre co-ordinator Angela Lohnes look over plans for the Canadian Red Cross Alberta flood relief effort. Lohnes said activity at the service centre has picked up since the flood crisis began last week. 

AMHERST – As it often does in times of need, the community is responding to a call for help from the other end of the country.

Angela Lohnes, the co-ordinator of the Red Cross Amherst service centre, said business has been brisk since news of flooding in Alberta first broke.

“It has been very hectic here. We have lots of people calling or dropping in asking how they can help,” Lohnes said.

Local Red Cross volunteers were in Dartmouth over the weekend staffing telephones at the operations centre answering calls from Alberta from flood victims wishing to register or fielding inquiries from those who’ve lost contact with family members and friends because of the evacuations.

Lohnes expects additional volunteers to be called to the operations centre as the response continues to flooding that forced thousands from their homes in Calgary and Medicine Hat.

Earlier this week, the Atlantic office announced it was sending a group of 13 volunteers to Alberta to work with the relief effort, while others are expected to be leaving for Alberta in the coming weeks.

Within Alberta, the Canadian Red Cross is supporting numerous municipalities with their evacuations and states of local emergency, helping provide round-the-clock staffing for 11 emergency shelters, including four in Calgary, one in Medicine Hat and six in smaller communities.

Lohnes said Amherst and area volunteers have gone into disaster areas in the past. Bev Cooke spent considerable time in Botwood, N.L. during flooding there 10 years ago. In fact a street in the central Newfoundland community bears her name.

Cooke has also worked in relief efforts in Alabama and she is prepared to go to Alberta if needed.

Lohnes said the biggest way people can help is financially. She said the relief effort is going to be very costly.

“A financial donation will go toward giving those on the ground in Alberta the proper tools to meet people’s needs,” Lohnes said.

People can make a financial contribution by dropping into the Amherst service centre in the ground floor of the Maritime Block building on Church Street, by calling 1-800-418-1111 and specifying their donation is for the Alberta Flood 2013 or by going online to redcross.ca. People can also text redcross to 30333 or add the code abhelp to 4664 for Rogers customers.

Lohnes said the community has always been quick to respond to disaster at home and abroad. Thousands of dollars were contributed locally following the tsunami in 2004 in southeast Asia, the Japanese and Haitian earthquakes and more recently last summer’s fire in downtown Amherst.

The relief effort, she said, is another opportunity to remind people of the need for volunteers to work with the Red Cross. For information about volunteering, call the service centre at 667-8794.

People looking for information about relatives in the flood zone can call 1-866-696-6484.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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