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Victims remain upbeat at shelter

By Staff | Aug 29, 2008

Bonita Springs residents are still hanging tough in the Estero Community Center as much of the their neighborhoods, and their lives, remain flooded as of Thursday afternoon.

The Red Cross has been using the Community Center as shelter for the displaced families, working in conjunction with the Salvation Army to provide food, clothing and a little bit of hope while they wait for the waters to recede.

Jan George, a shift manager at the shelter, said the spirits of the 482 people have been good despite the harsh conditions.

“I think it’s as well as can be expected,” George said. “The kids are doing well, as they do, and the moms have activities to keep them busy during the day.”

Busy as they might be, George said the real frustrations for mothers have been with doing their laundry because of the lack of facilities. The Red Cross has ordered washers and dryers to combat the situation, though no time table exists for their arrival.

As the Red Cross fights through some roadblocks trying to keep everyone happy, healthy and fed, volunteers have been a huge part of that ongoing process, working three shifts, 24 hours a day.

“The volunteers have been doing really well. We’ve also had plenty of spontaneous volunteers to come out and lend us a hand,” George said.

George went on to say the families and the Red Cross alike are in a “wait and see” mode, with no real idea of what’s going to happen next.

“We’re in a hold position because of the water level,” George said. “We’re a bit apprehensive about what will happen.”

Lee County Emergency Management is managing the overall recovery process, though much like the Red Cross, they too are waiting for waters to recede.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing much we can do until the water recedes except monitor the situation,” said Diane Holm, EOC’s information officer.

The Lee County Health Department issued a statement on Thursday that essentially said they know the water is highly contaminated, and nothing can be done at this time other than to offer certain recommendations.

“Water covering streets and entering homes is presumed to be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, chemical runoff, pesticides and other materials. Testing of standing water would not change the recommendations of the Lee County Health Department … “ the statement read.

FEMA has recently given residents of Hendry County who have been affected by Tropical Storm Fay the chance to apply for federal aid.

No word yet on whether Lee County residents will be able to apply for that type of aid, as county EOC has to do an initial inspection, whenever that may be.

The county then makes a recommendation to FEMA.

“They’re going to have to do an initial assessment review before they can determine anything at all,” Holm added. “We anticipate it being a while before these people can go home.”