Red Cross hosts mock disaster shelter site
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
For four hours Tuesday, First Baptist Church’s Activity Building at 107 Monroe St. was an American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter mock disaster shelter site.
Chapter Executive Director Dave Griffith said the event was not only an opportunity for Red Cross staff and volunteers to practice their skills, but also one for the community to learn what exactly the Red Cross does.
“We want them to experience firsthand what it’s like to be in a shelter,” Griffith said.
Participants were first given a scenario. For example, one scenario would be that you are a 19-year-old college student who was returning home to visit Mom and Dad. A tornado hit your hometown and you take shelter at the bus depot. Mom and Dad aren’t there to pick you up, so you walk the two blocks to the Red Cross shelter.
You register yourself at the shelter, are given a comfort kit and a cot to sleep on. You’re also informed about the services offered at the shelter, such as health services and mental health services.
“Once someone has lost everything, of course their mental health is in disarray,” Griffith said. “There’s also a chaplain.”
The shelter also includes a canteen, with snacks available 24/7 and three meals a day.
The meals are heater meals, which can be stored and prepared anywhere. The meals come in a package that heats the meal without any electricity.
“The comfort that comes with eating a warm meal is psychological,” said Clayton Kennedy, community market manager for the Red Cross chapter. “It’s key for us to create a home experience.”
Jefferson City Fourth Ward Councilman Carlos Graham said he attended the Red Cross’s mock shelter event because he’s on the Red Cross’s board of directors and wanted to see what exactly goes on behind the scenes at a shelter.
“I wanted to see the actual steps taken,” Graham said. “It’s amazing what the American Red Cross does day in and day out.”
Mike Flanagan, the Red Cross chapter’s communications manager, said the chapter plans to host mock disaster shelters once a year, and always in a different part of the chapter’s coverage area.
“We’d like to give this experience to more people,” he said.
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