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Many residents take shelter at Field House

Monday, February 2, 2009

SIKESTON -- With more than 70 percent of Sikeston without electricity Friday, close to 500 residents took shelter in the Sikeston Field House's warming shelter.

Dolores Jones, 62, was one of those people. She is retired and resides on Dona Street in Sikeston.

Jones lost her power Tuesday and has been at the Field House since Wednesday.

Jones pointed out that things were a bit uncomfortable in the early going.

"It was very cold here in the very beginning since they only had small generators at that point and everyone kept coming in and out of the building," said Jones.

Jones said conditions improved greatly with the arrival in force of the American Red Cross, the National Guard, and all the other agencies that are contributing to the effort.

"Things have gotten so much better since more help arrived," Jones said. "When the Red Cross and National Guard were able to get those big generators here, things got a lot better."

Jones commended the Red Cross and all the state agencies, such as Department of Family Services, for their tireless work to meet the needs of the Field House refugees, many of whom have medical conditions or special needs.

Jones, who suffers from a heart condition and diabetes, said all of the staff is paying close attention to those with medical conditions.

"I have plenty of medicine myself," she said. "But the Red Cross and the other agencies have been checking on me and know all about my medical conditions. Everyone has been so wonderful."

Jones' highest praise was reserved for the men and women of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety.

"The Sikeston Police Department has done an excellent job. They have been so polite and quieted everyone down so people could sleep," she said "They did a great job calming down the kids staying here. Although, I wish I had the energy of some of these kids."

Jones said DPS has been especially sensitive to those at the Field House with special needs.

"Everyone has been so kind,"she said. "I have a special needs friend who was having some problems and I asked one of the police officers if they could help her. They were just so polite and ready to help."

Jones said the professionalism and preparedness of the response from DPS feels more like that of a big city than a small town.

"The response of our public safety, makes you feel like we are in a big city, how prepared they are," she said. "You have to remind yourself this is just Sikeston, Missouri."

Jones said in her long time in Sikeston, the public opinion on DPS has waxed and waned, but her viewpoint on them is firmly positive at this point.

"I'm a lifelong resident of Sikeston," she said. "I was born and raised here. I have seen bad and I have seen good from this community over the years. I see that we are by far more good than bad. The police department had a bad rap for a long time, but now their reputation, in my book at least, is top notch. The police and fire departments have been working so hard through all of this. You see them working so hard right now. They just make me proud as punch. I'm 62 years old, and it just makes we want to cry. I'm just so proud of our town."

Jones said she thanks the officers every time she sees them now.

"I'm just so proud to say I'm from Sikeston and thank our DPS guys every time I see them," she said. "Everyone else should too."