Red Cross feeds over 1,300 in Manila

Thursday, February 5, 2009
Red Cross personnel and volunteers started serving soup and giving out water Thursday evening, Jan. 29, at the Manila Fire Station. They moved to the community center and were still feeding people Thurday, Feb. 5. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

The Northeast Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross set up at the Manila Community Center on Friday with plans for a shelter. According to Janet Davidson, Red Cross executive assistant, due to problems acquiring generators to furnish heat they were unable to house people overnight but managed to set up a feeding and warming station.

"We had over 50 volunteers and we appreciate each and every one of them," she said.

The Red Cross was at the Manila Fire Station on Thursday evening serving soup and giving out water to approximately 80 people. They moved to the community center on Friday.

"We had a slow start getting everything in order but managed to serve 550 on Friday," she said.

They served 1,380 people on Saturday and over 756 on Sunday. They were still open on Monday.

The Red Cross purchased the food, which the Baptist Men's organization cooked, and the food was brought in from Jonesboro.

Davidson said several individuals and groups including the Corps of Engineers in Manila from Hawaii were working to get a generator so there would be heat for anyone who needed to stay overnight.

"We did have a couple who came out every morning to take breathing treatments," she said.

The electricity was restored in most of Manila on Saturday night, including at the Community Center.

The Northeast Arkansas Red Cross Chapter covers 12 counties and had 10 shelters set up on Wednesday night and was down to eight on Sunday.

Truck loads of water were brought to the Community Center and distributed to families.

"We had hot foot, water and plenty of coffee," Davidson said. "The Emergency Response Vehicle was used to carry food to homes where people could not come to the Community Center," she said. "We've had a great response from volunteers, members of the Manila Fire Department, Farmers Market, and Manila Police Department."

Davidson said because the ice storm was so widespread, trained Red Cross volunteers have been stretched as well as the budget.

"We are in need of monetary donations," she said.

Anyone wishing to donate to the local chapter should make donations to the Northeast Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross in Blytheville.

"We also would like to start disaster classes in the area," she said. "We always need trained people to go to different areas when disaster hits."

For more information on becoming a trained volunteer or for classes, persons can contact the Red Cross office in Blytheville at 763-4481.

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