Available resources for help during winter storm

Posted at 9:15 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-11 10:46:18-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With the impending winter storm, there are services open to those who may need it.

One of the first places you can turn to is United Way's 2-1-1 service. Their call center is staffed 24-7 all year long.

"It's good for people to have a place to call, and for us to be able to give them some place to go," said Sherri Vainavicz, 2-1-1 Director for United Way.

The service is also used by emergency management to determine if they need to open any shelters during inclement weather conditions. During last year's polar vortex, 211 gave people advice over the phone and helped direct people where to go during widespread power outages.

"Once it was over with, my staff kind of looked at me and said, 'We really help people,'" said Vainavicz. "I said, 'Yeah, we probably saved a few lives.'"

You can also call Network 180, based in Grand Rapids. The service has an Access Center, which is also staffed around-the-clock. Typically, Network 180 serves those who may be considered vulnerable or suffering from mental health services. They will continue to take calls during this weekend's weather event.

"We have a contingency plan so if we lose power here, we will still be able to help people," said Regina Salmi, Communications Coordinator for Network 180. "What we're asking people to do is to please call us first. Don't put your life in danger by trying to travel to the here [to the Access Center]."

Network 180 expects to help most people by phone over the weekend. If someone absolutely needs to be seen in person to receive services, Network 180 can also make arrangements.

"If someone needs to be seen by one of our clinicians because they need more help, we have partnerships with hospitals around the area and will guide them to where we want them be where they can personally be accessed," said Salmi.

You can also call the City of Grand Rapids at a 3-1-1 number. The city has special hours this weekend to take weather-related calls only. These include a downed tree blocking a street, sidewalk or driveway, traffic signal out, road salting request, downed sign, etc.