Tuesday, October 30, 2012

West Philadelphia High School A Safe Haven For Hurricane Sandy Evacuees

red cross volunteers smile as they pass out oranges

helen mae reisner & norma edwards volunteer nurses

A hurricane can be defined as a tropical cyclone, a storm with winds that blow at a minimum of 74 miles per hour. Along with strong winds a hurricane can be accompanied with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Hurricane Sandy made her presence felt late Sunday afternoon with temperatures dropping, sporadic gusts of wind and heavy rain. Mayor Nutter, through a press conference, urged “to all residents if you live in a low line area, if you live in a flood prone area you need to relocate right now.” To assist evacuees that do not have anywhere to go, The City of Philadelphia has provided emergency shelter to its residents at West Philadelphia High School, Roxborough High School and Samuel Fels High School. Mayor Nutter explains those site were picked for a reason, “they are large, they are relatively new and they are able to accommodate a large number of people as well as pets,”  At West Philadelphia High School, the emergency response team appeared prepared and ready to serve Philadelphian evacuees. There are Red Cross workers, Police Officers, Civic Volunteers walking quietly through the hallways. ” My apartment is on the Mill Creek and last year my whole apartment was flooded and I was unwilling to learn that lesson again.” I am disabled , I came here so that me and my grandchildren would be safe.” “Once Mayor Nutter had said The New West building, I was out,” Ms. Iceland of the Lucien Blackwell Apartments  explained. ” I am glad that I came and I feel safe,” she continued. The Gymnasium was quiet with neatly lined cots covered in Red Cross blankets. “I am homeowner,” Mrs. Jenell  Anderson of South West Philadelphia explains . “I am scared to death of trees falling on my house. ” “The roof is not stable and it may collapse.” “ I rushed so fast to West Philadelphia High School that I brought my school books but forgot my clothing and personal items.” The Red Cross has been great they gave me a sweat suit and a bag of toiletries,” Anderson revealed. There is an intergenerational group of volunteers in the building that range from  seniors to college students .  Helen Mae Reisner a nurse administrator for the United States Postal Service and a volunteer nurse for this Hurricane Relief effort  explains,” I have been doing this for a long time I am here to serve and offer comfort to the evacuees. “ Alongside Helen is Norma Edwards a 21 year nurse veteran for the City of Philadelphia . “I worked for the city for 21 years at health center #4.” “This is what we do, we are involved in many civic operatives regarding nursing.” “We are with the medical reserves, first responders and today volunteers for the relief effort implemented here at West Philadelphia High School,” Edwards explained.  If you are a pet owner, there is also a section in the school for pets. At that time the shelter contained 5 cats.  Janet from the Philadelphia County Animal Rescue Team PCART explains , ” After Katrina people were unwilling to leave their animals and so the Red Cross concluded that shelters should be set up for residents  and their pets.” In the cafeteria Red Cross workers are anxiously passing out sandwiches and fresh fruit. The area is quiet and there is a sense of contentment. People are playing cards, game boards , children’s feet are kicking under the table gently as they wait in anticipation for their mothers to peel their oranges. It still is the beginning and the storm has yet to arrive but amidst this potential crisis The City of Philadelphia  is prepared with what feels like a safe haven for its South West and West Philadelphian Residents. Karimu Abena Hamilton                                                                             

ms. iceland of lucien blackwell apartments


1 comment:

  1. Informative and well written. You have a very human touch to your writing, noting nuances that make it warm and that puts one in the moment. Very nice. You natural attention to detail would lend itself well to the writing of biographies and novels.