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Gustav shelter in Charlotte closes

abethea@charlotteobserver.com

The Greater Carolinas chapter of the American Red Cross planned to close its shelter for Hurricane Gustav evacuees at noon today, officials announced this morning. But the organization remains on standby because of Tropical Storm Hanna, which is expected to intensify into a weak hurricane and make landfall in the Carolinas this weekend.

Red Cross officials said no one stayed at the shelter overnight, and Gulf Coast residents have been encouraged to return to their communities.

The local chapter also announced it will soon close a service center for residents affected by flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay. The center, set up at The Park, the old Merchandise Mart, will close at noon Friday, the Red Cross said in a news release. The service center is located at 2500 E. Independence Blvd.

Residents affected by the flood are able to sign up for financial assistance from the Red Cross to help pay for expenses such as clothing, shoes, food, baby items and medication. So far, more than $100,000 has been given to about 350 people. Anyone who still needs help after the service center closes can call the Red Cross at 704-378-4620.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to support relief efforts can visit www.redcrosshelps.org. Prospective volunteers should send an e-mail to MartinHope@usa.redcross.org.

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