Red Cross sends relief to Mansfield, extent of storm damage unknown
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 21:10
MANSFIELD – The storm may be over, but the town is currently dealing with the Hurricane Sandy aftermath.
The full extent of the damage to the town is currently unknown. One Mansfield resident was killed by a falling tree Monday.
According to Fran Raiola, the Assistant Director of Mansfield's Office of Emergency Management, officials will be actively assessing the level of damage to the town for the next 24 hours.
"We're still coordinating with other emergency services – the fire department, police, paramedics – to create a damage assessment, but I believe that Mansfield is in the initial stages of recovery,” Raiola said. “We're also working with CL&P in order to get power restored to our residents as soon as possible.”
Emergency Management is working with these other services to help clear road blockages and remove downed trees.
Raiola says that the priority right now is to locate and rescue anyone who may have been trapped during or after the storm.
An American Red Cross shelter has been set up at E.O. Smith High School for those affected by the hurricane.
According to Red Cross worker Doreen Brown, the school is a regional shelter that serves residents from Coventry, Willington, Tolland and Ashford in addition to those from Mansfield.
Brown said that anyone affected by the storm is welcome, regardless of where they live; no one will be turned away.
The shelter offers a number of basic amenities, including food and water, showers and sleeping quarters in the gymnasium. Computer stations and outlets for charging electronics such as cell phones and laptops are also available.
There is even a makeshift kennel for residents' pets that has been set up in the back of the school.
"I think it's a pretty comfortable kennel,” said Tim Dwyer, a member of Connecticut's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a group of secondary responders called in to help the Red Cross. “It's relatively quiet because it's away from the commotion and noise of the front area of the shelter. This should keep the pets from getting too excited.”
Residents must provide supplies for their pets while at the shelter, although Mansfield's Animal Control has contributed food and other pet-related resources to the kennel.
The high school's cafeteria is fully open to provide food to attendees for the duration of the Red Cross' relief efforts.
The cafeteria is being run by cooks from E.O. Smith's staff, with some of the food being provided by UConn's Dining Services, Brown says.
Red Cross is handling the brunt of the efforts, however, supplying shelters throughout Connecticut with food and other supplies and calling in workers from all over the United States to help with relief efforts.
"Some of us have come from huge distances to help, but in the end, it's worth it to make a difference," said Bob Bassett, a Red Cross worker from Juneau, Alaska.
Residents seemed pleased overall with the relief efforts of the Red Cross and the town of Mansfield.
"Everyone involved was cool, calm, and collected,” said Jessica Nieves, a Mansfield resident. These people are very generous, especially the Red Cross workers. They're fantastic.”
Mansfield resident Pamela Spofford was also happy with the town’s hurricane relief efforts.
"I think the relief efforts were handled very well,” she said. “It was essential that nobody panicked, and nobody did.”
Some volunteers have given their all to these relief efforts, like Red Cross worker Joseph Apicelli. Apicelli has been delivering supplies to Connecticut Red Cross shelters since 6 a.m. Monday.
"I've had two hours of sleep in two days, but that's fine,” he said. “I'll get sleep, I'll get a shower. I'll get those things later. There are people here who have lost everything. Knowing that we're helping them is what keeps me going.”