DOVER -- As the third anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene nears, the lessons learned continue to play out across our region. One such lesson involves the need to increase local sheltering capacity.
On Sept. 4, the town of Dover will join the growing number of communities across Vermont working with the Red Cross to take the next step in emergency planning through participation in a new initiative.
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, ARC created the Local Disaster Shelter Initiative. Since kicking off the program two years ago, 49 communities across our region have been equipped and close to 800 volunteers trained, including four Windham County and five Bennington County communities.
While the shelter materials and training are provided at no cost to the community, the Red Cross does look to community members to volunteer to be part of their locally trained shelter team. No prior experience is required to take this training.
At the Sept. 4 training, Dover 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.
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. A community that receives the free training and material resources being offered by the Red Cross, worth approximately $3,500, is taking an invaluable step toward a level of preparedness that meets today's realities.
To sign up for the Sept. 4 training, contact Beth Wareing at the American Red Cross by calling 802-660-9130, ext. 119, or by e-mail at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org. The training, which is scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m., will be held at Dover Elementary School.