Disasters big and small deplete emergency services

Tree falls on a wire in the 8500 block of Springvale Road in Montgomery County. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Just three weeks into summer and already some emergency services, including the Red Cross, are feeling the stress and fatigue of responding to multiple storms, the long heat wave and other calamities.

“Basically, our volunteers in the national capital region are now going 21 days of continuous response,” says Paul Cardin, director of Emergency Services for the American Red Cross, National Capital Region.

Summer’s first big job for Red Cross disaster teams came June 22 when a storm packing microburst winds severely damaged homes in Prince George’s County, driving families from 15 dwellings in Bladensburg.

Next came the derecho, which killed 6 people in the region and caused extensive power outages for more than one million power customers.

But that’s not all.

The Red Cross also lent a helping hand to 24 families who lost their homes in a Prince William County fire a week ago, and the agency opened a shelter this week for 20 people in Prince George’s County after their homes were flooded.

“Our volunteers have been busy going from one end of the area to the other end of the area helping those in need,” Cardin says.

Severe storms and the recent heat wave have also taxed the resources of other nonprofit agencies.

The Fairfax County government points out that shelters and food pantries have been busy supplying food, water and other supplies to those in need. Some of these facilities have depleted their reserves.

The Red Cross and other emergency service providers are asking the community to help replenish supplies after the string of disasters.

“The dollars help us get our volunteers ready,” Cardin says.”Tonight, somewhere in this area, there will be a Red Cross volunteer responding to a house fire, an apartment building fire.”

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