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Officials in Lycoming County offer resources near and far in wake of Hurricane Ida

It may be 1,272 miles from Williamsport to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but Hurricane Ida’s aftermath is expected to be felt for several months and there are ways local residents can help, and are helping.

The storm arrives locally today in a far weaker form with heavy rain and a flash flood watch in effect through Thursday.

The National Weather Service in State College indicated the track to bring between 1 to 3.7 inches of rain in Greater Williamsport.

Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas residents were hardest hit as Ida roared ashore. Locals can help by getting connected to the agencies helping in these states.

“I have a friend in the Capital Area United Way in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” said Ron Frick, executive director of Lycoming County United Way.

When asked what local folks can do, Frick said contacting the local United Way chapter can provide contact to places such as Baton Rouge.

“That’s the beauty of the international United Way network,” Frick said. “If we have a natural disaster, other United Ways will come to our assistance.”

Frick also noted how the 211 text system in Pennsylvania was among the best resources to get the right kind of agency help should the rain affect people negatively.

“I think a lot of people don’t know about PA 211,” Frick said, adding the system has a comprehensive data base that can direct individuals to get the proper help.

For example, what if the rain from Ida today floods a homeowner’s basement and knocks out a freezer or refrigerator that was full of food?

By dialing 211, or texting zip code to 898211, the individual can be directed to an agency, such as the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Sojourner Truth Ministries or the United Churches’ food pantry, Frick said.

United Churches of Lycoming County officials contacted said what is best for those suffering and in need was the spiritual uplifting kindness of others, including checks written out to help those hit by Ida. They suggested donating to the Church World Service, www.CWSGlobal.org. On the site is a donation button, a United Churches of Lycoming County spokeswoman said.

Shelter, emergency food and water

Among those trained for disaster relief are the volunteers and staff of the American Red Cross.

The agency said in a statement that it is sending 350 specially trained volunteers to sites in Louisiana and other states impacted by the storm.

American Red Cross workers are side-by-side with its partners to provide emergency shelter, comfort, food and water supplies, warehousing and has pre-trained individuals who volunteer to travel to these disaster zones.

So far, the American Red Cross had 60 community shelters throughout the southern states.

For those wanting to help, donations of clothes and food is not wanted, but rather the American Red Cross is accepting a $10 donation by texting IDA to 90999, an agency spokeswoman said.

In terms of power outages, PPL Electric Utilities is preparing for Ida throughout this region but it could not be determined at press time whether the utility was sending crews south.

According to Patrick Lester, a PPL spokesman, the utility is preparing for the storm, which is expected to bring wind and heavy rain across its service territory today through Thursday.

“We have been tracking Ida very closely for several days and have a plan in place to address any outages that may occur,” said James Conrad, director of operations for PPL Electric Utilities. “Preparing for damaging storms is something we do throughout the year. We urge all of our customers to stay safe and prepare for the possibility that they may lose power.”

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