Sep 17, 2010
After severe storms ripped through Athens County Thursday night, many were left without power or with badly damaged homes. Ohio University responded by collaborating with the Red Cross to open a temporary shelter in Weld House, an unused residence hall on the University’s South Green, for those displaced by the weather.
Extensive damage was spread across Athens County, but the worst, initially, appears to be in the nearby community of The Plains. Ohio University reported no damage as the result of the storm.
“Just before ten o’clock I got a call that we were going to work with the Red Cross and open up Weld House,” said Max Strickland, assistant director of Residential Housing, who was on-call Thursday night. “When I got there the Red Cross and in-hall staff had begun to plan how they would handle people coming in.”
Strickland and other Residential Housing staff assembled linen kits, consisting of towels, sheets and pillows, for those expected to stay overnight at the shelter. The Red Cross provided all other supplies. The cooperation between the aid organization and the University was quick and efficient.
“I want commend the excellent efforts between the Red Cross and our staff,” said Judy Piercy, director of Residence Life. “It was a true collaboration from the outset. I just think that it went very smoothly.”
According to Executive Director of Residential Housing Christine Sheets, about seven people used the shelter Thursday night.
“We had room and the ability to accommodate more than a hundred people, however,” said Sheets.
Residential Housing staff and the Red Cross ran the Weld House temporary shelter with supervision by the Ohio University Police Department.
In a letter to the Residential Housing staff, including student staff, Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith applauded the department’s extraordinary efforts and willingness to help their community.
“Under the leadership of Christine Sheets, Judy Piercy, and the other members of the senior team in Residential Housing, the response was swift, well-organized and thoroughly executed,” Smith wrote. The outpouring of support was not limited to Residential Housing team members, but encompassed the entire campus and Athens community.
“When I arrived there were already three or four students waiting outside to help,” said Strickland. “They said, ‘We don’t want to be in the way, but what can we do?’ It was so touching to see.”
Domino’s Pizza provided the shelter with food for the victims of the storm, volunteers and staff. Other community members arrived and volunteered their services, though shelter staff had to turn most volunteers away.
The Weld House shelter officially closed at noon today. All other sheltering will be handled through the Red Cross, which can be contacted at (740) 590-1240.
The Division of Student Affairs is currently exploring ways that OHIO students can become involved in the storm recovery effort.