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ERD responds to St. Louis seniors in the dark after electrical outage

7/26/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  A summer heat wave that began last week culminated in a large-scale thunderstorm by Wednesday evening. The storm barreled through downtown St. Louis, causing a blackout of the neighboring communities. Nearly 231,000 people were said to be in the dark at last count, many seeking refuge in cooling centers, Red Cross shelters, and nearby hotels.

The outage has been declared one of the worst in the city's history, said a representative for AmerenUE, provider of Missouri's electricity.

A state of emergency has been declared in St. Louis: Nearly 300 national guard troops have been sent into the region to clear away the damage amassed by the severe storm that blew winds at 65 mph and knocked down power lines, trees, and building structures.

Episcopal Relief and Development is working with the diocese of Missouri to send emergency supplies to the elderly residents living at the St. Andrew's Resources for Seniors. The facility serves as an assisted living home for low-income senior citizens, many of whom are on machines that require electricity. Over 600 residents were forced to leave their residence due to the blackout.

"To evacuate over 600 seniors is not an easy task," said Richard Ohlsen, ERD's director for domestic disaster response and preparedness. "With our demands for electricity going up, we are seeing situations like this more often. People need to have extra food, water, and money on hand. If the situation warrants, have families or friends out of the area to stay with."

ERD has been able to provide St. Andrew's residents with cots, air mattresses and temporary shelters until electricity can be restored in their neighborhood.

To help people affected by disasters, please make a donation to the Emergency Relief Fund at http://www.er-d.org, or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief and Development, designated for the "Emergency Relief Fund", PO Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101.

Episcopal Relief and Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States. An independent 501(c) (3) organization, ERD saves lives and builds hope in communities around the world. We provide emergency assistance in times of crisis and rebuild after disasters. We enable people to climb out of poverty by offering long-term solutions in the areas of food security and health care, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.