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Red Cross to open center for evacuees

The Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross will open an assistance center for families evacuated because of the crash from noon to 6 p.m. today and Monday in the Clarence Senior Center, 4600 Thompson Road.

An adult member of the family must provide photo ID listing current address to receive services.

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Members of Facebook are banding together to try to convince the ABC television show "Extreme Home Makeover" to come to Clarence and build the Wielinski family a new home.

The Wielinskis' home at 6038 Long St. in Clarence Center was destroyed when Continental Flight 3047 crashed into it Thursday night.

Homeowner Douglas C. Wielinski died in the crash and fire. His wife, Karen, and daughter, Jill, survived. The Wielinskis have three other daughters.

News of the crash has generated sympathy around the world and online.

Two girls identified as students at Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart started the Facebook group, "Let's Get Extreme Makeover to Build the Wielinski Family a New Home."

The group had more than 2,800 members at one point Saturday evening, with more joining every minute and many offering their enthusiastic help.

The organizers put up a mailing address and links to Web sites for people interested in lobbying the show's producers.

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Steven Chealander of the National Transportation Safety Board said that after speaking with some relatives of crash victims he realizes that some may think the response effort is going "painstakingly slow."

"Unfortunately, we're not like . . . a CSI show on television, where we can solve it all in one hour. This is a long process."

He estimated it will take three or four days to recover all the victims.

The process was slowed a bit on Saturday after ice formed.

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The stretch of Goodrich Road near the crash scene that had been closed was expected to reopen in both directions at 6 a.m. today, Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said.

"It's not an invitation to the public for sightseers," Howard said.

Motorists will not be allowed to park their vehicles on the shoulder of the road, he said.

Long Street and connecting roads near the crash site will remain closed, he said.

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A community prayer service will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday in Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church, 8445 Greiner Road, Clarence.

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Clarence Community & Schools Federal Credit Union has set up a fund for the Wielinski family, which lost its home and belongings in the crash of Flight 3407. Douglas Wielinski was killed but his wife, Karen, and daughter, Jill, managed to escape with only minor injuries.

Donations can be made payable to CCSFCU and mailed to 9145 Sheridan Drive, Clarence, NY 14031.

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Crisis Services has a 24-hour support hotline for people dealing with the impact of the crash of Flight 3407.

The organization has trained trauma counselors available for those having difficulty dealing with the accident. Staff is also available 24 hours a day to respond to homes, hospitals or other locations for crisis intervention and debriefing support.

Anyone can contact Crisis Services' 24-hour hotline at 834-3131 for support and immediate linkage to its trauma response program.

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A crisis information briefing for Clarence residents will get under way at 1 p.m. today in the auditorium of Clarence High School, 9625 Main St. Issues to be addressed include property access, health concerns and stress-management awareness.

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Clarence residents have raised questions about environmental issues -- with the smell of the burning plane and fuel still thick in the air.

"We did preliminary looks at groundwater runoff and air quality. We do not have any exposures outside of the norm at this point," said David Bissonette, Clarence's emergency services coordinator.

He encourages residents who have any questions to call town officials at 741-8930.

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Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, on Saturday visited the command center in Cheektowaga, where dozens of emergency services officials continue to oversee the massive response effort. She toured the facility and met with numerous officials, including County Executive Chris Collins.

Slaughter wouldn't disclose whether she planned on meeting with any families of the crash victims, citing the importance of protecting their privacy. But she said her visit to the command center affirmed her belief that emergency responders across the state do "extraordinary work."

"They really put their lives at risk to save ours," Slaughter told reporters. "I wanted to be here today to express my great pride in what they do and to certainly offer them any help."

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A Kaisertown funeral home is opening its doors Thursday to give the public an opportunity to remember the families of the victims of Flight 3407.

The public is invited to Mason-Sittniewski Funeral Home, 154 Weimer St., from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday. A grief counselor will be available, said Kevin M. Mason, who owns the funeral home.

e-mail: citydesk@buffneww.com

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