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As quickly as the tornado devastated Crittenden, the Grant County chapter of the American Red Cross mobilized to help those in need.
Once Diana Morgan, local coordinator of the American Red Cross, received a call from the Kentucky State Police and Grant County Emergency Management that assistance was needed, she immediately contacted the Cincinnati office and began setting up a shelter at Grant County High School.
“People in this area have never been through that type of trauma before with the tornado and the devastation and how quick it occurred,” Morgan said. “It was amazing. It was like in two seconds it was gone. We had one man who was in his shower when this happened. He got out of the shower and out of the door and it’s all gone.”
Morgan sent out a dispatch call to local volunteers in the county and seven local volunteers and another seven from the Cincinnati chapter responded.
Within 60 to 90 minutes, the Red Cross was staffed and ready.
Without the office space provided by the Grant County Fiscal Court in the courthouse, Morgan said it would have taken several hours to prepare the shelter.
“I’m was just overwhelmed about how everyone responded so quickly,” she said. “We were prepared and ready for the hundred people we were expecting. We had trailers from Cincinnati Red Cross that came down with cots and blankets. They came from Blue Ash, Ohio. We had the staff and the equipment.”
Three school buses were taken to Crittenden to transport anyone needing a place to stay to the shelter at the high school.
An estimated 75 to 100 people were expected to make their way to shelter after houses and apartments became inhabitable in northern Grant County.
However, Morgan was shocked when only 16 people arrived at the school.
By the end of the night, only a family of four slept on cots at the shelter while others found refuge with nearby friends and family members.
That same family spent the night at the shelter again Saturday.
When the shelter was shut down the following day, they were then put up in a hotel by the Salvation Army in Grant County.
Shortly after the storm, donations quickly poured into the shelter from throughout the community.
Wal-Mart in Dry Ridge brought meat trays, chips, bread, diapers, baby wipes and other items.
Subway, St. Williams Church and Edwardo’s were among others providing items to the shelter.
“We kept getting calls all night of people wanting to donate food or clothing,” Morgan said. “Unfortunately, the Red Cross does not accept food or clothing unless it’s pre-packaged. That’s why we stressed to people any financial help is what we can use more than anything right now.”
As the need for shelters have died down, the American Red Cross has opened several distribution centers to assist affected residents with clean-up efforts.
The Grant County service center is located at Crittenden Baptist Church on Russell Street.
Emergency response vehicles from the Red Cross also will be traveling throughout affected communities providing clean up kits, rakes, shovels and work gloves.
Health service workers are helping replace things like lost medications, eyeglasses and providing outreach and condolence visits.
Those who would like to make a donation to the American Red Cross can make checks payable to: American Red Cross, P.O. Box 524, Dry Ridge, KY 41035.
For more information, call the Grant County chapter at 859-630-3460.