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Red Cross Ready To Respond If Needed In Ferguson

A Red Cross volunteer distributes food in Ferguson in August.
Courtesy of the American Red Cross of Greater St. Louis

The American Red Cross of Greater St. Louis says it is ready to provide whatever services are needed in the aftermath of the anticipated grand jury decision of whether or not to charge Darren Wilson with a crime.

The protests that erupted following the August shooting death of Michael Brown left many families in the Ferguson area struggling to meet basic needs, said Red Cross chief executive officer Cindy Erickson.  The Red Cross partnered with other area relief agencies to set up a respite center where people could get supplies and services. 

"People were having a hard time being able to get access to basic supplies because the stores were closed in their neighborhood," Erickson said. "We also provided counseling services and case work services."

She said some people needed assistance paying rent and utility bills since street closures and transit reroutes made it difficult for people to get to work.

"It doesn’t matter what your particular agenda or interest is," Erickson said. "We’re going to help you as long as it’s in a safe way, and in a safe environment that keeps our people, keeps our workers, our volunteers, safe."

The work is no different than how the agency would respond to a natural disaster, Erickson said. The difference is that staff had to plan for a lot more scenarios in Ferguson than they would with a fire or tornado. she said.

"Whether it’s a fire, whether it’s a tornado, whether it’s flooding, the event comes and it’s done," she said. "With this, we’re just not sure."

Erickson said even though the agency is prepared, she hopes the assistance isn't needed.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.