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Bald Eagle Area High School is site of emergency shelter

Red Cross Centre County member Star Campbell cuts apple slices for community members on Friday , Oct 21, 2016 at Bald Eagle Area High School.
Red Cross Centre County member Star Campbell cuts apple slices for community members on Friday , Oct 21, 2016 at Bald Eagle Area High School. psheehan@centredaily.com

The scene at Bald Eagle Area High School on Friday was different than a usual weekday.

Administrators at BEA canceled school Friday, districtwide, due to weather.

And the secondary school building on South Eagle Valley Road was, instead, the site of emergency shelter that housed about 80 people Friday morning who were evacuated from their homes and/or displaced due to flooding in the area, Superintendent Jeff Miles said.

Milesburg classified as “disaster” area

Milesburg was deemed a disaster area early Friday morning by the Centre County Emergency Management Agency after Bald Eagle Creek rose from heavy rainfall, and localized flooding occurred in areas near the creek.

Places hit worst, according to the National Weather Service in State College, were the Boggs Township, Milesburg and Howard areas. The Julian and Unionville areas, and Huston and Union townships also experienced flooding that forced some roads to be closed through the morning, until the water subsided.

Bald Eagle Area High School Principal Jack Tobias said he received a phone call just after midnight Friday from Milesburg fire officials alerting him the school would need to be opened as an evacuation site.

“Pretty much, they had to come in and evaluate and do an assessment to where to place people,” Tobias said.

BEAHS began taking in residents as early as about 1:30 a.m. Friday

By about 1:30 a.m. workers and residents of Eagle Valley Personal Care Home were under a mandatory evacuation, because of rising water levels in the facility, and transported to the high school, Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania Disaster Program Manager Chriss Schultz said.

Schultz said the high school is a disaster recovery site designated to shelter area residents forced to evacuate their residences in emergencies.

All residents were placed in the high school’s lobby area that included cots and miscellaneous equipment and supplies set up by American Red Cross volunteers, and food provided by the Salvation Army.

Other local businesses like Pizza Mia, Valley Diner and Sheetz also donated food. Coca-Cola additionally donated bottles of water, Schultz said.

We work together to get this done and work with our partners and people from the school district to make sure it goes smoothly — organized chaos. We wouldn’t be able to get all this done without the help of volunteers and community members

Chriss Schultz, Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania disaster program manager

“We work together to get this done and work with our partners and people from the school district to make sure it goes smoothly — organized chaos,” Schultz said. “We wouldn’t be able to get all this done without the help of volunteers and community members.”

It started with seven Red Cross volunteers, and a series of other volunteers who agreed to help out in shifts through the day Friday. Some school administrators also got to the school as early as about 12:30 a.m. to help.

Schultz said Red Cross workers and volunteers are trained in how to help manage situations like the one Friday.

Miles said the district is prepared to keep the school open for emergency shelter through the weekend.

The CDT was not given permission to speak with residents who were staying at the Bald Eagle Area emergency shelter.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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