Red Cross Shelter For Those With Breathing Problems

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Heavy smoke prompted the local chapter of the Red Cross to set up a shelter for people with breathing difficulties.

The Rim Country Branch of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross is using a portion of the Rim Country Middle School to provide temporary shelter for people forced to leave their homes because of the smoke.

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The Rim Country Branch of the Red Cross set up a shelter Sunday for people forced to leave their homes because of the smoke. The shelter is operating 24 hours a day. Pictured are Red Cross volunteers Carol Flowers, Linda Pelletier and Judie Moreni.

"This building has reverse air flow. The air is sucked out and not blown back in," said Navajo Apache Red Cross Nurse Judie Mareni, who came from Pinetop to help.

The topography and burns taking place south of town has made smoke conditions particularly bad in Gisela and Deer Creek, which is why the branch set up the shelter Sunday.

Willow Fire Incident Commander Jeff Whitney offered little information about smoke conditions for the coming days.

"The winds will be the same as they have been -- variable," Whitney said.

Rim Country Red Cross volunteer Carol Flowers registers those who come to the facility.

"We've seen a handful of people come to get relief, but people are also coming to ask questions about what to do if the smoke continues," Flowers said.

The volunteers can offer some medical care, a place to sleep and meals to people forced to leave their homes.

"Right now, we are manning this facility 24 hours a day," Shelter Manager Linda Pelletier said. "We have a registered nurse on duty."

Pelletier said they are compiling a list of other resources in town that are available for those in need of assistance.

To contact the local chapter of the Red Cross, call Lynda Papaioanu at (928) 970-1533 or (928) 472-7245.

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