Pa. opens pub­lic in­quiry hot­line for flood­ing vic­tims

The Boyertown Area Times - - LOCAL NEWS - Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Gov. Tom Wolf said a pub­lic in­quiry hot­line is now avail­able to res­i­dents who need as­sis­tance clean­ing up after dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing in cen­tral and east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, in­clud­ing Berks, Ch­ester and Mont­gomery coun­ties.

“We’re work­ing with vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tions that have of­fered to help res­i­dents in th­ese com­mu­ni­ties,” Wolf said. “I know that some of th­ese sur­vivors have been hit mul­ti­ple times in the last few weeks, and the will­ing­ness of th­ese vol­un­teers to do this hard work is greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.”

Any­one who would like to re­quest help should call 272-200-3211 for as­sis­tance. The hot­line will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., in­clud­ing week­ends through Aug. 31.

Vol­un­teers will pro­vide phys­i­cal la­bor, such as muck­ing out base­ments, re­mov­ing dam­aged floor­ing and dry­wall, and re­mov­ing de­bris.

A va­ri­ety of or­ga­ni­za­tions make up the PA VOAD (Vol­un­tary Or­ga­ni­za­tions Ac­tive in Dis­as­ters). They pro­vide as­sis­tance that com­ple­ments the ef­forts of municipal, county and state gov­ern­ments. Their mem­bers ac­tive in this re­cov­ery mis­sion in­clude the Amer­i­can Red Cross, South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion, United Methodist Com­mit­tee on Re­lief (UMCOR), Lions Club In­ter­na­tional, Sal­va­tion Army, Team Ru­bi­con, A.G.A.P.E of Columbia County, Men­non­ite Dis­as­ter Ser­vices, United Church of Christ, LDS Char­i­ties, Lenda-Hand of Le­banon County, and Lutheran Dis­as­ter Re­sponse. Callers will need to pro­vide ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to their ad­dress, the type of work they need help with, and the sta­tus of util­ity ser­vices at the site. Callers will also need to ver­bally give their per­mis­sion for call tak­ers to share their in­for­ma­tion with the vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tions.

PEMA Di­rec­tor Rick Flinn said that while ev­ery ef­fort will be made to help those who need it, the re­spond­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions will pri­or­i­tize ser­vice de­liv­ery ac­cord­ing to their own cri­te­ria and abil­ity to as­sist. It may take sev­eral days for vol­un­teer teams to re­spond.

In ad­di­tion, the Dis­as­ter Dis­tress Helpline, 1-800985-5990, is a 24/7 na­tional hot­line ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing im­me­di­ate cri­sis coun­sel­ing for peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing emo­tional dis­tress re­lated to any nat­u­ral or hu­man-caused dis­as­ter. This toll-free, mul­ti­lin­gual, and con­fi­den­tial cri­sis sup­port ser­vice is avail­able to all res­i­dents in the United States and its ter­ri­to­ries. Stress, anx­i­ety, and other de­pres­sion-like symp­toms are com­mon re­ac­tions after a dis­as­ter. Call 1-800985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to con­nect with a trained cri­sis coun­selor.

“We know that this has been a stress­ful time for flood­ing sur­vivors as well as first re­spon­ders who have been do­ing stress­ful and dan­ger­ous work to help their neigh­bors,” Flinn said. “Please reach out if you need some­one to talk to. Free help is avail­able 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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