Atmore's Red Cross still homeless

Published 9:29 am Wednesday, May 25, 2005

By by Tim Cottrell
Of the many victims of Hurricane Ivan, perhaps the most ironic was the one group whose job was to help victims.
The Atmore Chapter of the American Red Cross saw its building virtually destroyed by Ivan back in September, and have set up shop in the back of the Atmore Advance building since that time.
With summer fast approaching, it appears that little relief is on the way.
"What we're doing is we're having a problem finding contractors who want to do municipal work," said Atmore Mayor Howard Shell. "We have our engineering firm in Montgomery working on getting everything put back together, and we're working just as hard as we can to get the problem fixed."
Charlotte Boyle, director of the Atmore Red Cross, said that she would be glad to return to their building, whenever it may be finished.
"With hurricane season coming along, we're in a bind as to what to do," Boyle said. "We need all our resources. We're still recovering from the last one."
Boyle also wished to thank the Advance for allowing the use of its space for the Red Cross.
"I don't know what we would've done without the Atmore Advance," Boyle said. "They've made us feel very welcome. It makes us feel good to have a place to call home.
"However, we promised we wouldn't be of any extra expense on air conditioning or heating or anything like that," Boyle continued. "We operated in 40 degrees during the winter, but it will probably be much hotter this summer."
Dot Killam, a volunteer with the Red Cross, felt that while their current accommodations were ample, better work could be done in the original Red Cross building.
"If we were in our own building we could have someone in the front to fill out a lot of paperwork and get things done before they came to us," Killam said. "We'd also have our computers set up to receive things from Mobile and from nationals. Even so, we haven't missed any of the clients, I don't think."
Boyle agreed that the situation had made it difficult to fully serve the city.
"With the big building, if we were with a customer or looking for something someone may call us on the phone and hang up before we could get to it," Boyle said. "Sometimes people would think we weren't here but we were."
Mayor Shell said the situation with the Red Cross building mirrors the situation with the fields at Tom Byrne Park, due to the city having to not only replace things but also upgrade to current codes.
"It's a lot like with the ballfields," Shell said. "We're required to back with concrete polls to replace the wooden ones we had. Engineers are currently working on that. It's not simple and straightforward. It's taking a lot of work on everybody's behalf to get it accomplished."
Boyle also mentioned that when the Red Cross returns to its building adjacent to City Hall, they are looking for volunteers.
"We need to have classes for potential volunteers," Boyle said. "And we're looking for new volunteers to help man the shelter."
Shell said no one would be as happy as him when the job was finished.
"They're not anymore anxious to get it done when we are," he said.

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