Red Cross opens warming shelters around East Tennessee

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The American Red Cross announced has opened a shelter in Knoxville at Parkwest Church of God, 7635 Middlebrook Pike, and in Maryville at Monte Vista Baptist Church, 1735 Old Niles Ferry Road for those without power or who are in need of shelter during the winter weather.

Related: Red Cross opens warming shelters around East Tennessee 

Shelters have also been open at First Baptist Church of Rockwood, Caryville Elementary School, First Christian Church in Crossville and Jellico High School.

The Red Cross opened a shelter at Parkwest Church of God.
The Red Cross opened a shelter at Parkwest Church of God.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says because some residents will not have power restored Tuesday, Sequoyah High School is open for those who need shelter.

In McMinn County, shelters have been opened at the following locations:

  • Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church–1861 County Road 250 in Niota, TN
  • Union McMinn Baptist Church–314 County Road 316 in Niota, TN
  • Englewood Church of God–9 Church Street in Englewood, TN

In Morristown, a shelter has opened at First Presbyterian Church, 600 W. Main Street.

The Red Cross says it is prepared to convert warming shelters into overnight shelters if needed.

What it takes to open a shelter

With tens of thousands of power outages reported in East Tennessee, we wanted to find out what it takes to open a shelter and why the Red Cross chooses which locations to set up.

With no power and no heat since 9:00 Monday night, Dottie Brigati was starting to get worried on Tuesday since she uses oxygen round the clock.

“I have a few tanks that I’ve been using. I only have maybe six hours worth of oxygen left on these tanks. So I need to get some place I can plug it in,” she said.Brigati

Trying to think of where to go in Jefferson County, Brigati says her only options were driving to her daughter’s home in Blount County or an open Red Cross shelter.

“To Maryville at the time I spoke to my daughter she said all the roads were like a sheet of ice. I wanted something closer. I thought there must be a shelter closer but there isn’t,” said Brigati.

Why is that? We took that question to Michelle Hankes, executive director of East Tennessee American Red Cross.

“In the first part of the storm we set up shelters in areas focused on the main thoroughfares, I-40, I-75 for stranded travelers,” she said.

The focus Tuesday is on helping those going through long term power outages. The Red Cross pinpoints an area or neighborhood to set up in after speaking with emergency management and planning carefully.

“Do the risk assessment, is it safer to open a shelter or is it safer to have people shelter in their homes,” added Hankes.

For people who have health concerns and limited options, the Red Cross says to call 911 or your doctor for help if a shelter is no where close by.

In the mean time for Brigati, she’s making a game plan to refill her tanks.

“It’s very difficult to get down my driveway and road but I’m going to have to try it,” she said.

If you’re without power and have a smartphone, the Red Cross has a shelter finder app where you simply have to type in your zip code and the nearest shelter or warming station will be located.

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