Hancock to increase preparedness; local volunteers needed

HANCOCK — Two years after Tropical Storm Irene, the lessons learned continue to play out across our region. One such lesson involves the need to increase local sheltering capacity. With its Local Disaster Shelter Initiative, the American Red Cross has moved past identification of the problem and for the past year has worked to address this shortfall one town at a time. In just the first year of the program, 40 communities and 600 volunteers across our region have been equipped and trained towns.
The town of Hancock will soon join the growing number of communities across Vermont and the Upper Valley working with the Red Cross to take the next step in emergency planning through participation in the Red Cross Local Disaster Shelter Initiative. Hancock will be the fifth Addison County community to partner with the Red Cross as part of the Initiative.
There will be a training for a local disaster shelter on Tuesday, Oct. 8, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Hancock Town Hall, 1097 Route 100. Volunteers are needed.
To sign up, contact town Emergency Director Jill Jesso-White at 802-747-0142 or by e-mail at [email protected], or contact Mindy Branstetter at 802-767-3415 or [email protected]. Larry Kupferman at the American Red Cross is also available by calling 802-660-9130, ext. 113, or by e-mail at [email protected].
No prior experience is required to take this training.
More than 200 towns across Vermont were impacted by Tropical Storm Irene, including Hancock and 11 others that found themselves cut off for several days. Not even the American Red Cross, with its 12 Disaster Action Teams across our region, could be in that many communities at once. To enhance preparedness throughout Vermont and the Upper Valley of New Hampshire, the American Red Cross created the Local Disaster Shelter Initiative.
At the Oct. 8 training, interested Hancock residents will become familiar with the equipment being provided by the Red Cross to stock the local shelter as part of the initiative (cots, blankets, emergency radios, emergency lighting, signage, vests and water) and will receive the training necessary to open and manage the shelter until additional, outside assistance can arrive.
At the heart of this Red Cross initiative is a goal of empowering communities to open local Red Cross shelters quickly and independently. With the necessary equipment and training being provided by the American Red Cross, individual communities are being asked to recruit local volunteers to staff the shelter. All communities are encouraged to reach out to the Red Cross to see how they can receive the free equipment and training being offered.
By opening local, community shelters faster and more independently, the Red Cross is working with towns to mitigate the problems created by storm conditions, road conditions and the availability of existing volunteers. The American Red Cross remains committed to being the first line of support to the people of our region with regard to disaster sheltering. However, Irene has taught communities the realities and unpredictable nature of disasters. A community that receives the free training and material resources being offered by the Red Cross, worth approximately $3,500, will be taking an invaluable step toward a level of preparedness that meets today’s realities.

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