50 Years, 50 Stories


Published July 2, 1998 in The Ledger Independent

Over the past two years the Maysville area has seen more than its share of disasters — the Ohio River flood of 1997, the Cargill fire, along with numerous house fires.

Now the mason County Red Cross is more prepared than ever to respond to any type of emergency or disaster situation thanks to a new full-equipped, self-contained disaster van.

“It’s here and it’s ready to roll,” said Lucille Swearingen, director of the Mason County Chapter.

The van was delivered to the local organization Tuesday by the Cincinnati area chapter of the American Red Cross and is being kept at the Fernleaf-Highland Volunteer Fire Department. It is ready to respond not only in Mason County but throughout the area, officials said.

The van is stocked with supplies designed to meet most any situation— sweat suits in sizes to fit infants to adults, ready-to-make sports drinks and coffee and containers to store then, comfort kits with basic health and beauty aids, cots, blankets, diapers and formula, fire and flood clean-up kits. Equipment for setting up a basic shelter is also included in the van.

“I wouldn’t have realized you could put so much in that space,” Swearingen said.

Michael Mahaffey, disaster specialist with the Cincinnati Red Cross and a former resident of Maysville, said the local chapter was targeted for the van because of its recent disaster history. The goal of the chapter is to strengthen the Maysville unit with the addition of the van.

The name will be manned by members of the local disaster team who are eon call at all times, Mahaffey said. He emphasized the team’s readiness o respond to all emergencies, whether it affects the entire community or an individual family.

“It’s not just for big things,” he said.

To say te local chapter is pleased with the van “is more than an understatement,” Swearingen said. “This puts us in good shape.”

The Red Cross is also ready to undertake another project in the area — a smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector program, Mahaffey said Wednesday.

The organization will work with local fire departments, scheduling neighborhood visits where volunteers will go door-to-door checking for the detectors. If the home has he devices, the volunteer will check them and leave extra batteries.

If there are no detectors in the home, they will install them for the residents.

In six months, the detectors will be re-checked so the information can be tracked and a database established, Mahaffey said.