The American Red Cross is trying to "balance" Blanco County's emergency shelters.
"While we've been focused on other things, we've let our shelters in Blanco County get seriously out of whack," said Kristy Vandenberg, Executive Director of the ARC's Hill Country Chapter in Kerrville. "Now we need to get them back into whack."
The shelters she's talking about aren't big, residential shelters where thousands of evacuees would live for months.
"Blanco County doesn't have the resources for that," Vandenberg explained. "The shelters we're talking about would house our neighbors after a tornado or flood, and probably for no more than a few days."
The problem is getting the shelters in balance.
For example, the Red Cross has three places it could open as shelters in Blanco -- the Blanco United Methodist Church, Gem of the Hills, and Blanco High School. But Johnson City has only one -- First United Methodist Church -- for the whole north half of the county.
"Obviously, we need more capacity in the north," said Vandenberg. "On the other hand, almost all our local volunteers who would run the shelters are in Johnson City. We have very few trained shelter operators in Blanco."
And a survey showed none of the shelters has all the supplies it would need to open in an emergency.
Bringing those needs and resources into balance requires recruiting, and that's what the ARC is doing; recruiting shelter space in Johnson City and volunteers in Blanco, and financial help from the whole county.
On Saturday, March 8, the Red Cross will train another class of shelter volunteers in cooperation with the Blanco County Disaster Response Group. There's no charge for the all-day training at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City. To register, call JoAnn Routh at 868-7414.
"We'll be making the first delivery of shelter supplies before the end of this month," Vandenberg promised, "but we're counting on Blanco County to help us finish the job.
"In March we're going to do a fund-raising campaign, asking residents to help us fund the work we're already doing in Blanco County. Whether it's a helping hand after a disaster, or a house fire, or aid to a military family, the help has got to be there for our neighbors.
"The Red Cross will continue to support Blanco County, like we have since we first came in 1917. But we need for Blanco County to help us do it...and that's part of the balance, too."