Local Red Cross spread thin helping 42 displaced by more than a dozen recent fires


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — American Red Cross disaster action team members have been working overtime.

They’ve been responding to more than a dozen fires in Hampton Roads just since Thanksgiving.

“They’re getting called in the middle of the night, sometimes in the middle of the day and they have to leave their homes and go reach out to their neighbors and show support and comfort from the Red Cross,” said Executive Director of the American Red Cross Coastal Chapter Marissa Nihill.

Nihill says they do usually see an increase in the number of fires they respond to when it gets cold, but don’t usually see so many in such a short time.

“But since Thanksgiving it’s been extraordinary, we’ve responded to 14 fires and help 42 people just since Thursday and that frequency is very unusual,” said Nihill.

And throughout the state the numbers are high too.

“Over 100 people we’ve been helping throughout the entire commonwealth and that’s unusual,” Nihill said.

She says there are a few safety tips she wants to pass along, especially since some of the fires have been started from electrical problems.

She says if using a space heater, plug it directly into the wall or make sure your extension cord is rated for the level of power your heater requires.

And be mindful of where lighters and matches are left in the home.

“One of the cases that we responded to was a child playing with a lighter,” Nihill said.

She says the disaster action team helps people both emotionally and financially.

Nihill says there is a cost for every disaster they respond to, especially if families need a place to stay.

If you would like to make a donation to the Red Cross, visit https://www.redcross.org/.

Nihill says they will honor your request to keep your donation local.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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