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Red Cross to close relief centers

Because demand was falling, the Red Cross has stopped sending food trucks into areas of Pinellas County devastated by tornadoes and announced plans Wednesday to close disaster relief centers on Friday.

"We're phasing it out because the numbers are dropping," said Red Cross spokesman Robb Waugus.

He said seven food trucks had been operating in the area since the tornadoes hit Oct. 3. The Red Cross served 8,878 meals to relief workers and to people who lost their homes, he said.

For storm victims who still need food, vouchers for restaurants and grocery stores are available through the Red Cross disaster service centers in Pinellas Park and Largo.

Those centers, opened in the hardest-hit areas, will close Friday night, Waugus said.

So far, 152 families have applied there for money to pay for clothes, rent, home repairs, medicine and other items. Just 13 new cases came in Wednesday, Waugus said.

The centers, at 8001 46th St. N in Pinellas Park and 12175 125th St. N in Largo, will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Friday.

After that, storm victims may apply through the American Red Cross' regular local chapters, Waugus said.

The American Red Cross may spend about $250,000 to aid the tornado victims, he said.

_ MONICA DAVEY

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