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      Hannibal community fired up over Red Cross consolidation

      The local Red Cross chapter in Hannibal will consolidate with the Greater St. Louis region.

      Wednesday began on a low note for two Red Cross administrators in Hannibal.

      As of Oct. 1, Executive Director Tom Dugger and Administrative Coordinator Crystal Burnett will no longer be full-time employees with the organization.

      It's one of several changes taking shape due to an upcoming merger between Northeast Missouri's Red Cross chapter and the Greater St. Louis region. The consolidation will wipe out the current facility in Hannibal.

      "For the American Red Cross, here in Hannibal as well as across the country, services don't come from buildings. They actually come from our volunteers," Regional C.E.O. Cindy Erickson said.

      Erickson attended a closed meeting Wednesday to map out a plan with local Red Cross representatives. Erickson says volunteers make up about 95 percent of the Red Cross workforce. She says this means services provided now will not change in the coming months.

      "We provide our disaster services, we'll continue with that, our services to armed forces. Actually, we've been doing those services now out of St. Louis for a couple of years. So, for the disaster services, we'll still be there when a family loses their home. That is our priority to provide that shelter, that care and that hope, that all Americans deserve," Erickson said.

      Without a building, we asked how volunteers will access the supplies needed to assist area residents in times of need. Erickson says materials are already placed throughout the region with the help of community partners.

      "We're also going to be looking at Quincy, looking to them. And we're going to be talking with the community and our volunteers to find out what's the best way for us to meet best service delivery for Northeast Missouri," Erickson said.

      Critics of the merger wouldn't speak on camera but said this change will hinder aid to the area, adding to the response time during a disaster. But Red Cross officials say they'll meet the needs.

      "The Red Cross has been in Hannibal for more than a hundred years and with these changes, we're going to continue to be in Hannibal for another hundred years," Erickson said.

      Officials say the consolidation is expected to better employ regional staff, volunteers and pool resources to support Northeast Missouri communities in Marion, Ralls, Pike, Shelby, Monroe, Lewis and Clark counties.

      Northeast Missouri residents needing assistance with the Red Cross after Oct. 1, can call this number for help: (314) 516-2899. Erickson says she's working on a toll-free number.