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Marathon goers reunite and find counsel at The Castle at Boston Park Plaza

Posted by Laura Gomez  April 17, 2013 03:21 PM

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The Castle at Boston Park Plaza has become the scene of a support center for the Boston Marathon bombing. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army Disaster Services, and the City of Boston are contributing to the relief effort.

“This is a drop-in center. We’ll do anything and everything we can to help people who are needing some extra support today,” said Boston Health Commissioner Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

With the chaos on Monday, many marathon participants as well as their supporters were separated from their belongings as well as their loved ones. With the help of many city departments and volunteers as well as the Boston Public Health Commission, the support center provides a safe location for people to reunite with their friends and families.

“That ranges from counselors to helping with logistics — can’t find my bag, still missing a friend or a relative, lost my plane tickets home, don’t have my ID, I’m new to the city, I came in but now I’m trying to figure out where I can stay,” said Ferrer.

Those who were separated after the bombings can go to The Castle, at 50 Park Plaza at Arlington Street, not only to reunite with loved ones, but also to get a bite to eat and rest before their journey home. Companies including Au Bon Pain Catering and Flour Bakery & Café are providing food to those at the support center.

“We have over 100 people that are hospitalized, and many of our hospitals have 30-plus people who came in last night, some of them very seriously injured,” said Ferrer. “We really want to make sure that those patients and those families know that we’re here to help them, so we’re trying to coordinate with all the hospitals to make sure whatever it is that they need, that their families need.”

The Boston Police Department has had officers stationed outside The Castle at Boston Park Plaza since 6 a.m. providing security to those visiting the support center and are checking bags upon entrance to make sure that everyone remains safe inside.

Debra and Claudio Hexsel visited the support center to collect their belongings this afternoon, still shaken but glad to be together.

“It echoed all the way down the buildings. I knew it was not an ordinary ‘boom,’” Claudio Hexsel said of yesterday’s events. “We tried to get out of there as quick as possible and head towards our hotel.”

Peggy Dettloff, who came from Chicago to run the marathon, was separated from her family for three hours after the explosions.

“It was the longest three hours of my life,” Dettloff said. “The best sight was seeing my son.We just hugged for the longest time. I just feel so bad for the people that were hurt.”

Though she said she is disappointed she was unable to finish the marathon, Dettloff is thankful she and her loved ones made it out safely and was amazed at the support she received from everyone in the city.

“Everybody has been fantastic. So many people were so wonderful, the outpouring of support when we were standing there,” Dettloff said. “All the residents that came out of their apartments and gave us water and candy bars, it was wonderful.”

“I’ve never cried so much,” she said. “It feels good to talk about it. It’s therapeutic.”

Ferrer said the Boston Public Health Commission’s “primary focus right now is to make sure that the patients and their families in the hospitals are getting the support that they need. We also have a phone line set up for people who need some emotional support.”

Those who need to talk to a counselor can 617-534-5050.

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