IMG_3053[1]This Halloween, residents of the Rip Van Winkle Apartments in Poughkeepsie were forced to evacuate their 17-story building due to an electrical fire that left more than 300 people temporarily homeless. The Red Cross moved quickly to open an emergency shelter at Mid-Hudson Civic Center, offering warm meals and a safe place to sleep for anyone in need.

To preserve a bit of Halloween spirit, especially for the children at the shelter, Red Cross volunteers worked with City of Poughkeepsie officials and Civic Center staff to coordinate activities including pumpkin decorating and a small parade.


“The community is really coming together to help care for these families and keep their morale up during a challenging time,” said Kelly Formoso, executive director for the American Red Cross of the Mid-Hudson Valley. “We’re working closely with lots of partners to make sure that people’s needs are met until they’re able to return home.”

IMG_3057[1]On Thursday, the Red Cross served meals donated by local restaurants and partner agencies like the Salvation Army. With the support of several local partners, portable shower units were set up at the Civic Center, and shelter residents received donations of shower supplies and hygiene products so they could freshen up.

The shelter at Mid-Hudson Civic Center remains open to residents of the Rip Van Winkle Apartments tonight (November 1) and Red Cross volunteers will be available to assist displaced residents in the days to come. For more information, visit, follow @RedCrossENY on Twitter, or find the American Red Cross of the Mid-Hudson Valley on Facebook.