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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Neighbors helping neighbors

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Viola Assembly of God emergency shelter/ Photos by Emily McIntosh
Many knew the ice storm was coming but no one could have known the magnitude of the devastation.

Stores that were stocked Jan. 26 were soon out of supplies for residents to buy and survive on during power outages the next day. Those power outages would carry over into the following week and perhaps for some residents several weeks after.

People went to Lowe's or Home Depot to get tickets and stand in line for generators to run at least their refrigerators and some type of heat source. Rumors were spreading that FEMA would reimburse people for the cost of their generators if they bought one because of the ice storm. However, FEMA has stated that this is not true.

But there were the unfortunate few that were not able to get generators or food and did not have a secondary heat source in their home.

In response to the need of its residents, Viola opened an emergency shelter in the Viola Assembly of God Church on Highway 62-412.

Charlene Crowl, the Viola Fire Department's assistant fire chief, who was signing people in at the shelter, said on Jan. 30 the shelter was serving about 40 people, as well as those who were coming in and out of the shelter for food and warmth.

During the ice storm and power outages, many people found themselves in the same situation as everyone else. "From the babies to the elderly," Crowl said are the ages of people she said have come to the shelter. "Mainly, they just have no power to cook anything. They have no heat, number one, and then after so many days when they have no power, they can't cook nothing."

Crowl said the church has chain saw crews working to clear paths to people who may need help getting to the shelter. The church's pastor, Allen Cartwright, had one team out Feb. 2 clearing roads to get to people's houses that are trapped by fallen trees.

Children at the shelter seemed to be doing fairly well. Some were doing cartwheels, running and playing games with their friends as some of their parents helped at the shelter fixing meals and directing people to where they needed help. Other adults were occupying the little ones with games.

The church had a generator behind its fellowship hall that was powering the kitchen area. Propane heaters were also placed in the building to keep people warm.

"We've got a wonderful crew in there (the kitchen) fixing stuff to eat," Crowl said. "We're just trying to keep things up and going as much as possible."

Alice Cartwright, the pastor's wife, said they have been able to get a freezer hooked up to the generator to store parishable food items that many people have been donating because they can't store it in their freezers without power. She said the church has been cooking these items to keep from spoiling and serving them to the people. Alice Cartwright said the church has been serving about 200 people per meal at the shelter.

Several volunteers who live in the community were giving a helping hand at the shelter. "We've got a lot of community help," Crowl said. "It's great."

Alice Cartwright said the church has had about 40 volunteers from the community help at the shelter. "The community has just amazed me this week," Alice Cartwright said. "They've just been awesome."

Crowl said the shelter has received many food donations from the community as well as assistance from ADEM (the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management). ADEM has given the shelter cots and blankets to use during this time.

Crowl said Darrel Zimmer, the Fulton County Office of Emergency Management coordinator, Fulton County Judge Charles Willett and other county officials have been doing their jobs well. "They are doing a wonderful job for what we have to deal with," Crowl said.

Another shelter has been established in Horseshoe Bend at the St. Mary of the Mount Catholic Church on Church Street for those who are in need of a warm place to stay.

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