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NEW OPERATIONS CENTER BENEFITS RED CROSS

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The late 1999 hurricane season activity is giving the American Red Cross an opportunity to try out its new emergency operations center on St. John.
Disaster services coordinator Cynthia Smith says she's happy to have the new center, situated in the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay. "It's great," she said. "We have telephone lines. It's a good drop-off and pick-up location for people and supplies coming in from St. Thomas."
Although the Red Cross, through its St. Thomas/St. John Chapter has provided services on the island for 30 years, the St. John group has until now operated without adequate space to store emergency supplies, hold meetings or conduct training classes.
Smith said the operations center was set up in July, and the Legislature Building was the logical place for it, since the group already held its volunteer and advisory board meetings there. The Red Cross began using the space to plan and carry out its disaster services operations at the time of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Jose in October and did so again in preparation for the approach of Hurricane Lenny.
While the operations center reduces the need for St. John volunteers to meet barges and ferries bearing personnel and materials from St. Thomas, Smith said, the Red Cross is still working with scattered resources on St. John. Most of the emergency supplies are kept in a 20- foot trailer, and the group's headquarters is still in a small corner office in the back of the Morris deCastro Clinic, next to Cruz Bay Park.

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