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Disaster shelter needed

We never know when disaster might strike. When it does, we need for resources and help to be readily available.

The Bellaire Volunteer Fire Department is working to make sure that is the case here in Belmont County. The BVFD expects to soon be approved as an official disaster shelter by the American Red Cross.

The new status did not come easily. Fire Chief Joshua McMahon said the department installed a large backup generator and new air conditioning units. Both were required before the station could be considered for shelter status.

Once the site receives approval, the Red Cross plans to park a travel-size trailer on site containing numerous disaster-related supplies. McMahon said this is a plus for the area, because the next closest disaster trailer is located in Zanesville, Ohio.

There are more potential benefits that are expected to come with the designation. For one thing, more grant funding may become available to the department, which was able to purchase the generator via a grant and with help from the village coffers.

We believe the upgrades were well worth the investment. In addition to the looming threat of COVID-19, aka the coronavirus that is spreading around the globe, we are no strangers to disasters in our region. Flooding and flash flooding, in particular, are recurring threats. In other instances, people need shelter from extreme heat or from frigid cold during power widespread outages.

It seems the BVFD facility is ideally situated to swerve the public in such situations. McMahon said the Red Cross was impressed with the building’s location — just off Ohio 7 on the south end of Bellaire and near a Kroger store and other larger buildings that have the potential to serve disaster victims with commercial kitchens.

Good for McMahon and his department for striving to receive the designation, and kudos to all who contributed to making it possible.

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