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Polson evacuation shelter helped people, but also warmed hearts

Posted at 3:53 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 13:26:30-04

POLSON — Things are winding down on the Red Cross Emergency Shelter in Polson, where dozens of people were helped, and hundreds more helped out, during the eruption of the Boulder 2700 Fire.

MTN News found it's yet another example of what can happen when we help each other.

Within hours of the Boulder 2700 Fire's devastating assault on the Finley Point community, donations were pouring into the emergency shelter at the Linderman Elementary Gym. An astonishing response in a very short time, from tons of towels to clothes and food.

"Well, absolutely the community, I couldn't be more pleased with the showing of the community," says Lake County Disaster Action Team Chair John Peregoy. "We have a Facebook page for the Fire Boulder 2700 fire. We had to put out on it the other day, 'please, no more donations'."

And it wasn't just donations, Peregoy says volunteers came from all walks of life, including the CEOs of both local hospitals and many others pitching in with equipment, supplies, and information.

"They put in eight-hour shifts, three days in a row, working with our OPS team, our operations team. We had nurses from the (CSKT) tribe on call that were boots on the ground and we also had the tribe provided us with mental health service professionals, licensed professionals." - Lake County Disaster Action Team Chair John Peregoy

When Governor Gianforte visited Thursday, the team told him of the amazing response, and how any leftover donations will be passed along to other organizations to continue helping after the shelter closes.

But this effort wasn't just about getting emergency supplies, so it was about helping friends and neighbors and doing it with heart. And Peregoy became emotional when I asked him what will go through his mind when he remembers the community response this week, laughing with relief and wiping a tear from his eye.

"Yeah, I think you can see it a little bit. Uh, it's just heartwarming man. I just can't express how proud I am of my community, you know."

polson shelter

But this crisis is a reminder that more help is needed for future emergencies.

"We have four people on our Disaster Action Team here. That's not enough," Peregoy said after having his first full night of sleep in days. "But yes, please, call Red Cross central if you will and get on the website. Fill out the form, 'I Want to Volunteer' and we'll put you through the training and give you a shiny vest like this one."

Another great tool to have loaded on your phone now is the Red Cross "I'm Safe" app, which allows you to post a message to your social accounts letting friends and family know you're okay during emergencies like the fire this weekend.

Here's the link to find that and other emergency apps from the American Red Cross.