D.C.-area resident forgoes hoopla

By Linda m. Linonis

A former Valley woman offered lodging at her apartment to members at her former church.

It’s estimated that 1 million to 3 million Americans headed to Washington, D.C., for Inauguration Day.

Kelly Lallo of Laurel, Md., formerly of Austintown, isn’t one of them. Lallo said she plans to spend time with friends in Baltimore and maybe take a trip to western Maryland.

The former Valley woman, who still has family in Austintown, said she considered attending the inauguration. “I thought being there firsthand would be awesome, but there is no way I want to deal with that many people crammed into the metro and then crammed into the National Mall,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Vindicator.

“... There is nowhere to sit down there. I don’t want to stand for hours upon hours in the freezing cold just to watch something on a huge screen. I can do that from inside my home, with a pot of coffee and a blanket to keep me warm!”

Through the Steel Chalice newsletter of First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1105 Elm St., Youngstown, Lallo offered free lodging at her apartment to members of her former congregation. She attended the Unitarian Universalist church from 2006-08 and worked there briefly as membership coordinator. She asked those interested to e-mail her. But, she had no takers.

Lallo said she wasn’t disappointed no one responded.

“I wanted to offer a place to stay to people I knew. Members of my family were considering coming down and when they changed their minds, I opened it up to the congregants of the First Unitarian Universalists Church of Youngstown,” she said.

“I am a Unitarian Universalist and knew, being the politically minded group we are, that some UUs in Youngstown may [have] needed a place to stay. I contacted a fellow UU through Facebook to make the offer to the Youngstown church and she posted it in The Uniter.”

Lallo said she lives just 15 miles from D.C. She noted that the crush of people and the congestion might be deterrents to those who considered attending.

“Congestion I’m sure will be a problem but I think an even more interesting point, that I’m not sure a lot of people who aren’t in the area know, is how difficult the district is making it to get into the city,” she wrote. “All major routes into D.C. will be shut down and many of the metro stops will be closed. They are telling people to expect, on average, a walk of at least two or three miles to get anywhere near the inauguration.”

Lallo, who wrote that she has lived in the D.C. area for 13 years, said she copes with daily congestion. “A 15-mile commute can take anywhere between one to two hours,” she noted. She said the thought of having millions more people added to the mix was “overwhelming and a bit frightening.”

Security will be unprecedented. “I suspect down in the city and around the Mall the security will be extreme,” she wrote.

An American Sign Language interpreter, Lallo works for Deaf-REACH, a small nonprofit organization in northeast part of the capital, just past the Maryland line. Lallo said that Deaf-REACH will be closed on Inauguration Day.

In her e-mail, she wrote, “The majority of the staff live in Maryland and won’t be able to get into the city. This is a hassle for us as we needed to develop an emergency plan of action for the day and even buy a generator for our group home should something happen in the city to cause a blackout, etc.”

Lallo explained the Deaf-REACH is under the Department of Mental Health and it requires all group home facilities to have a backup generator. She speculated that with so many people in the city, it would strain the power supply.

“I have heard people liken this event to 9/11 when there was so much activity happening at once that no cell phones or land lines would work because the circuits were literally jammed,” she wrote.

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