Monday, October 01, 2001

New help reaches city

Local volunteers continue to assist in recovery

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Steve Griebling of Montgomery was at work in Sharonville when he learned New York City needed him.

        The next day, Friday, the Salvation Army volunteer was at Ground Zero — where the World Trade Center once stood. He was ready to give rescue workers new socks and gloves, cots and tents, and anything else that they might need.

        “There's not a metaphor that can describe this. This is pretty much beyond our language in words,” said Mr. Griebling, 47, who normally works at Life Way Christian Counseling Center in Sharonville.

        “But mostly what is impressive are the people,” he said. “They are doing their job, doing their work. They get real tired. They get emotional. They want to laugh. Sometimes, they'll break down.”

        It was the first time that Salvation Army's Cincinnati chapter was called to help. Their volunteers relieved Salvation Army members who have been there since Sept. 11.

        Greater Cincinnati is adapting to New York's changing needs. They know that their help will be needed for quite some time.

        “It's changing literally day-by-day and hour-by-hour,” said Vanessa Nicely, Salvation Army's divisional development director.

        The agency's warehouse has gathered so much clothing, batteries, flashlights, bottled water and other items that it's “just popping at the seams,” she said.

        The agency also has raised about $400,000 for New Yorkers.

        But, this week, their manpower was requested. A 12-member team from both Cincinnati and Columbus left Thursday. They will remain there until Saturday, when about 20 more Cincinnati and Columbus members will depart.

        The American Red Cross chapter originally sent 11 volunteers to New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. All but the ones in New York have returned. The agency has assembled a list of volunteers who are eager to relieve the ones stationed in New York.

        “We expect to be in New York City and Washington, D.C., and other cities affected by this for a good three years. We'll probably be at ground zero for at least another six months. (In time), we'll get a little more involved in the family side of it,” said Bob Armstrong, the Red Cross' disaster specialist.

        The chapter has raised $2 million for families affected by Sept. 11. Because so many New York families lost their main providers, monetary donations could soon go toward their mortgage payments, Mr. Armstrong said.

        So far, the money mainly has been for immediate relief and vouchers that families have used to purchase food, clothing and other items, he said.

        “It's not only easier for us but it helps the local economies up there,” he said.

        Mr. Armstrong said that grief counseling will be needed for a long time.

        When a tornado ripped through Montgomery Woods in 1999, many Red Cross volunteers counseled children because of their fears that another tornado lurked in the skies. Likewise, they now must address children's fears that another plane will crash into a skyscraper.

        “The list is just unlimited as to what we can do. We'll do our best to help,” he said.


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