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Baltimore County provided shelter on UMBC campus

Catonsville resident Raine Love was in the Gulf War in 1991, so she is familiar with working at emergency shelters.

Twenty-two years later, she is helping in a similar capacity at a shelter at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retriever Activities Center, one of 32 shelters operating in Maryland, to provide comfort for families displaced from their homes by Hurricane Sandy.

"This storm seems to be one of the worst because it started so early and it is slow moving," Love said Monday afternoon, Oct. 29.

Love, supervisor and case manager for the Department of Social Services, said no area families had taken advantage of the facility as of 1 p.m. Oct. 29.

They have 144 cots already set up in the activities gymnasium and can provide more.

Showers, food, water and activities were available, but there were no televisions or microwave ovens.

"We have six different varieties of food donated by the Department of Human Resources," said Human Resources specialist Kieva Bankins.

Among the food choices are pasta and vegetables, spaghetti and meat sauce, and chicken.

"It's like an upgraded military package," Bankins said.

Also on hand were ample snacks for kids, including cookies, peanut butter and crackers, drinks, and milkshakes.

"We have enough food to fill the shelter and there is more on the way," said Bankins, noting they also provide toiletries.

Bankins, who lives in Prince George's County, and Love plan to stay and sleep at the shelter for the duration of the storm.

A prolonged stay will not phase Love and Bankins

"What is wonderful about being at UMBC is that we have an emergency command center that will be available around the clock," Bankins said.

"It's like a nice close-knit community," Love said. "Everyone is right here."

Also checking in will be some of the Red Cross volunteers from Ohio and Kansas.

"We have a whole crew of American Red Cross volunteers who worked with (hurricane) Katrina and many other storms," Bankins said.

Pat Kick, a volunteer from the Department of Human Resources, is working at a shelter for the first time.

"I'm a little shocked," she said. "I figured it must be bad, if they called me."

She plans to go home at night since she lives five minutes away from the campus, just inside the Baltimore City line.

With her experience from the Gulf War, Love said she is well aware that material benefits and warm shelter aren't the only ways to show support.

"One of our jobs is to make sure people are calmed down as much as possible, because it is a disaster and they are already upset," Love said.

Parking in the garage next to the school arena is free during the operation of the emergency shelter.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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