STROUDSBURG, Pa - The American Red Cross has set at Stroudsburg High School and officials say they will be there as long as the power is out and they have the Emergency Management Agency request to stay open. PPL has indicated it could take until Wednesday to restore everyone's power.
"People are stranded and they need a place to warm up, charge their phones, possibly take showers, grab coffee," said Zara Khawaja, a Disaster Program Specialist with the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross was contacted Friday night by the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency asking them to open a warming center at Stroudsburg High School because there were around 100,000 reports of power outages in the area.
"Right now, we're trying to get the word out that we are here to provide services for anyone that's in need," said Khawaja.
Parts of the Poconos got close to two feet of snow and winds reached 60 miles an hour. The weather caused trees to topple, vehicles to get stuck and traffic to hault for over 24 hours.
"It wasn't bad as long as they kept the roads plowed," said Todd Fleming of Rochester, New York. "They stopped plowing. We had to shut down."
Fleming and other drivers like Francis McDonnell of upstate New York were stuck in standstill traffic.
"I debated about walking to try and get food or something, some coffee or something, but where I'm at it's three miles one way in either direction," said McDonnell.
Khawaja says the American Red Cross has access to resources directly in the Poconos and in the surrounding areas and is always prepared for a small or a larger scale disaster. However, the damage from Friday's storm caught some off guard.
"This has been chaotic but I applaud all the agencies in Monroe County working together: the fire departments, the EMA, Red Cross and everyone just communicating and figuring out how we're going to move forward and get the necessary services to all of the community members here," said Khawaja.
Some might be wondering what the Red Cross will do come Monday with kids potentially returning to school here. Officials tell me it will be up to the school to either close classes or simply not use the gym where volunteers are assisting folks.
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