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Local Red Cross volunteers prepare at grade school

By D.B. Lewis, Friday, May 4, 2018

Eight local volunteer American Red Cross workers met at Warrenton Grade School on Tuesday to practice setting up an emergency shelter.

Volunteers refined their skills for various tasks required to get the ball rolling smoothly with supervision from Jenny Carver, regional ARC disaster program manager, and George Everts, shelter supervisor.

Everts, who lives in Astoria, was promoted after deploying in January to California, where he was a shelter worker during the massive wildfires. Shelter supervisor is akin to an assistant manager, but with autonomy to adjust an operation to fit local conditions.

Ideally, Everts would share the hands-on organizational chores with a local shelter manager above him, but in rural areas such as Clatsop County, there might not be enough pretrained local volunteers available.

In a real disaster, Carver or another Red Cross manager might have to serve as shelter manager – by phone or ham radio - if no one could be brought in by nightfall.

The Red Cross used to have full-time employees staffing field offices in most locales nationwide, including one in Astoria. It was funded by donations because the Red Cross receives no taxpayer money.

But with the onset of deep recession in 2008, donations dried up and the organization had to radically reduce overhead to remain functional. Thousands of offices were closed, and the operational model changed from mostly employee-led to mostly volunteer-led.

Carver oversees a five-county team of volunteers. Hence the enthusiasm to train Clatsop County’s residents to help themselves. Volunteer trainees are both very welcome and much needed far in advance of disaster.

Most training is done online by personal computer, with several workshops offered locally throughout the year. Training is free for a host of interests ranging from supervisory to desk workers, ham radio operators, shelter assistants, cooks, blood drive helpers, vehicle drivers and more.

“It’s that local knowledge we rely upon to carry out our mission in a meaningful way,” Carver said. “Disaster training is one way we prepare the community ahead of trouble.”

A wealth of how-to information for disaster preparation is available online at redcross.org. Prospective volunteers may contact Carver by leaving a return call number at 503-428-4090 or emailing her at jenny.carver@redcross.org.


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