Need For Red Cross Services Jumps This Winter
02/15/11 12:04PM By Melody Bodette
(Host) The local Red Cross says its disaster action teams have been called into service 30 percent more often this winter than last.
In the past 24 hours, disaster action teams have been called to three fires. The most recent was a house fire in Irasburg that displaced two people.
Chief response officer Tim Stetson says the teams are made up of local volunteers who meet with families for two primary reasons.
(Stetson) "First to meet with families, to work with that family as far as their emergency needs in the area of food, clothing and shelter, and then they work with the families to provide financial assistance for that, and then work with community referrals."
(Host) Stetson says the teams also provide support, such as food and drinks to emergency workers at the scene of an incident. This winter they've been called to a few commercial fires, and a barn collapse in Chester.
Red Cross officials say they're not sure if they've been busier because there have been more fires or an increased awareness of Red Cross services among rescue personnel. Doug Bishop says sometimes the call comes from family members.
(Bishop) "A member of their family may call us on occasion and say, ‘My brother or sister's family was affected by a fire early this morning. Is there something you folks can do to help?' At that point we make contact directly with the family."
(Host) The Red Cross says volunteers are happy to help in times of need, but raising the funds to provide free services remains a challenge.