News : Connecticut 211 Helpline Receives More Than 500 Calls as Snowstorm Grips State
New Haven, CT, USA, March, 2017 -- The 211 help line that Gov. Dannel Malloy encouraged people to call for assistance during the storm that closed much of the state received more than 550 calls, according to data from 211 Counts.
A total of 552 calls came over the 211 line and 628 requests were recorded. The 211 help line is operated by United Way of Connecticut.
Even with the bad weather, the highest concentration of types of calls were not housing-related, with shelter and housing requests making up roughly 20.3 percent of the requests Tuesday, according to the data. Other requests were about food, utilities, health care, addiction services, jobs, among others.
211 Counts, created by the Health Communication Research Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, tracks the roughly 16 million calls that are made to 211 call centers across the country annually.
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"We have a lot of staff that handled some really important calls yesterday," Annie Scully, a research analyst in the community results center at United Way of Connecticut, said Wednesday. "We are still actively taking calls."
The number of calls recorded Tuesday by 211 Counts is down from the same date in 2016, when close to 1,000 calls came in.
Scully said United Way of Connecticut has a protocol it follows during severe cold weather, even putting phone staff up in hotels to make sure they can still get to work and the call center can remain staffed 24 hours.
The data showed that of the housing requests made Tuesday, 71 percent of them were inquiries about shelter, rather than rental assistance or applying for low-cost housing.
The New Haven Emergency Shelter Management System opened its emergency shelter on Grand Avenue Tuesday and Arnold Johnson, the executive director, said the shelter was full. Johnson said there were more than 60 people in the shelter Tuesday.
"We were prepared," he said. "They were well taken care of."
After providing lunch and dinner to guests in the shelter Tuesday, the ESMS received donations to provide lunch for shelter guests on Wednesday as well, Johnson said.
Malloy had enacted severe cold weather protocol Monday and asked that emergency shelters remain open to assist those seeking a place to ride out the storm, which in some areas of the state, left up to 18 inches of snow. The cold weather protocol is in place until Thursday.
Since the cold weather protocol was put in place, the section of United Way of Connecticut’s website that has information about the state’s 15 warming centers has had more than 900 page views, Scully said.
Lisa Tepper-Bates, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, said the organization is still collecting data on how many individuals sought shelter Tuesday because of the storm.
"They’ve been busy," Bates said of shelters across the state. "But, they are always busy."
She said shelters are often over capacity during severe cold weather protocols.
"My hat is off to them," Bates added. "They are going to do their best to bring inside everyone who needs shelter."
So far in March 2017, the 211 help line has processed more than 9,000 calls, according to 211 Counts. In March 2016, the help line answered more than 28,000 calls.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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