PLATTSBURGH - Whether it's been in response to natural disasters or through providing lifesaving education, the North Country chapter of the American Red Cross has been helping people of the region for nearly a century.
The North Country chapter has strived to be a valuable asset to the community since it was formed through the work of the late Ada Rogers in AuSable Folks in 1916. Today, the minimally-staffed office of the chapter has two full-time and three part-time employees, but boasts more than 300 volunteers in the area.
"We help people to prepare, work through and recover from disasters," executive director Jeanie D. Roberts explained of the organization's mission.
A majority of the emergencies the chapter tends to, said Roberts, are house fires.
"Occasionally, we have a disaster of some kind, but generally they are house fires," she said.
Most recently, a house fire on Stetson Avenue caused the relocation of two families living in a rented house. The chapter assisted the families with receiving aid.
On a much larger scale, the chapter set up 27 shelters in Clinton and Essex counties during the infamous Ice Storm of 1998. The shelters, said Roberts, were visited by "close to 1,000 people in the 17 days they were open, if not more."
Roberts also said when ice or snow melts, like the 1998 ice storm, the flooding it creates could sometimes cause a need for aid in the area. In 1996, when there was major flooding in the area, the local Red Cross worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy the land which was flooded out and could no longer be built upon, said Roberts.
Earlier this year, a major flood in the AuSable Forks region also called for aid.
Other than providing aid and assisting other aid organizations, the local Red Cross raises funding, educates and protects those in need in the surrounding area and across the globe.