WASILLA — The American Red Cross consolidated the Valley’s emergency response shelters to one location under the guidance of the Mat-Su Borough Wednesday, Jan. 5.

Valley residents seeking shelter due to the severe weather conditions can go to the Menard Sports Center 24 hours a day. Once inside, they have access to sleeping quarters, hot showers, food, and other amenities.

In addition to the various onsite resources, several caseworkers are readily offering help to anyone who comes through the doors. Sausen said they’re working with several community partners such as the Salvation Army who’s providing food for the shelters.

“If somebody’s house is unlivable due to damages from the storm, say a tree fell over or they can’t get their heart back on, our shelter workers and our caseworkers are trained to get the person the resources they need, just like they do in the event of a home fire,” American Red Cross of Alaska Regional Communications Director, Taylar Sausen said.

Sausen said that Borough officials contacted the Red Cross to operate emergency shelters in Wasilla and Palmer Monday, Jan. 3.

The Palmer shelter was started within Mat-Su Senior Services. It moved to Palmer Junior Middle School then to Palmer High School before the consolidation Wednesday evening. Sausen said they’re diverting all their Palmer clients to the Menard and continuing to help those without power stay warm.

According to Sausen, there were 12 Wasilla residents and 18 Palmer residents utilizing their shelter during the first night. She said they do daily counts at midnight.

“We are really at the behest of the Borough because it is technically the Borough’s shelter. We’re just staffing and operating it for them. So, we will have our shelters open as long as the Borough deems it necessary. It’s really a day-by-day kind of thing,” Sausen said. “We may have some pipes bursting… I think that we’re going to see some ebb and flow and maybe even a slight increase of residents needing shelter, even with the power back on.

Sausen said they’ve received positive feedback from the community during this process, and they’re ready to provide support around the clock.

“We will be there,” Sausen said.

For more information, visit redcross.org/local/alaska

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@froniterman.com

BREAKOUT:

The American Red Cross advises the public to remember several safety items during a power outage:

Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.

Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.

Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.

Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out.

When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.

Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.

Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.

When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.

If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.

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