PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has set up a cooling shelter at the James A. Rhodes Athletic Center on the campus of Shawnee State University (SSU) for those that need to escape the heat or need power for medical reasons.
According to Mary Arnzen, Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Red Cross, the shelter was first established Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve been averaging about 15 people per night. Most of the people that come do not have electric and there are a few that have medical utilities that need to be plugged in and they have no power at home,” Arnzen said. “It was a lot of work to set up the shelter and when we see people in need taking advantage, it’s all worth it. Because we are helping people that need assistance and that’s what the Red Cross is here for.”
She said partners in the shelter have been Shawnee State University, Southern Ohio Medical Center, the Portsmouth City Health Department and numerous volunteers.
James Ferrell of Minford was one of the shelters residents Monday afternoon.
“It got so hot in our trailer, we could not stand it. We called the electric company and they told us about this shelter and we decided to come down. This has been a blessing from God for us,” Ferrell said.
Arnzen anticipates the shelter will stay open as long as there is a need.
The Romney for President Campaign dropped off some supplies to the shelter Monday afternoon. The campaign made similar donations to Red Cross and charitable donation centers throughout central and southern Ohio Monday.
“I think this demonstrates the governors (Romney) commitment to everyone working together. Instead of trying to divide people let’s work together, this heat wave has affected everyone,” said Tom Niehaus, Ohio Senate President.
Nieshaus said he traveled with the campaign on two stops in southern Ohio.
The shelter is being manned with Red Cross Volunteers and medical personnel from the Medial Reserve Corp.
Arnzen said the biggest need of the Red Cross right now is financial.
“We could not do this without our neighbors. We are helping the community and we are hoping the community will help us fund this project,” Arnzen said.
She said the final expenses of the shelter would likely cost the Red Cross a couple thousand dollars.
Anyone interested in making a financial contribution to help offset the cost of the shelter can drop off donations at 1801 Robinson Avenue, Portsmouth or call 740-354-3293.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.