Emergency shelters bring in community help
LAKE COUNTY — When families became displaced in the aftermath of Tuesday’s storms, many stepped up to the plate to provide assistance.
Fire stations and township halls throughout the county provided electricity, water and other resources. Donations flooded in to two designated shelters at Baldwin High School and Webber Township Hall.
At the school, people were assisted by the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Pleasant Plains Fire Department, school personnel, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and sheriff reserves also helped.
“The effort has gone very well,” said Shirley DeYoung, with the American Red Cross. “We housed more than 30 people with beds. The Salvation Army served three meals plus snacks. The Red Cross provided water and we gave out clothing. The Red Cross is there 24/7 and makes sure everything goes properly for our clients. We have nurses on staff and mental health workers. The school provided clean showers and bathrooms."
Webber Township Supervisor Ernie Wogatzke opened the shelter at the town hall right after the storm passed through on Tuesday night.
“We just intended to open the hall up for the fire department, and it blossomed into a community event as we saw a need," he said. "The shelter was staffed by the fireman’s auxiliary so the firemen could respond to the disaster. It was the best scenario — everyone came together like a well-oiled machine. There was an overabundance of help and volunteers from the community – people helping people.”
Donations from the community poured in, such as food, dog food, baby formula as well as board games for kids.
“We served meals and fed our community, provided water and drinking water, offered a place to sleep and electricity to charge phones and devices,” he said.
Kylyn McCavitt, who moved to the area four months ago, spearheaded services at the shelter.
“I am very impressed and humbled to see how everyone reached out," she said. " I was allowed to help, and that was a big thing for me. I left around midnight and was back at 6 a.m. each day. I was in charge of meals, donations and everything. We got so many donations we were able to donate to others and transfer everything to Baldwin Fire Department for people to utilize," she said.
"I had a fundraiser on Facebook, with a goal of $200, but we exceeded to $500 for Webber Fire Auxiliary to recoup funds. The food donations exceeded $500 as well. A lot of guests who came to eat food helped clean and helped with meals. The kids were the first ones to ask if we needed help sweeping or taking out trash. It touched my heart to see not only people coming to get help, but coming to help.
Wogatzke said the situation was a learning experience, and now they know how to better handle a disaster should it occur again.
On Sunday by noon, both shelters at the school and Webber were shut down and continued at the village of Baldwin Fire Department.