When we think of disaster shelters, we usually think first of hurricanes, and in Blanco County, we’re far enough from the coast that we don’t think much about those at all.
As the events of July proved, though, inland counties are more likely to need American Red Cross shelters than coastal counties!
When Tropical Storm Alex came ashore in northern Mexico on June 30, followed by a tropical depression a week later, the demand for shelters in the valley was small and those that opened quickly closed as the storms moved inland.
Then the storms stalled and dumped heavy rains over the Rio Grande watershed, causing floods all along the river up to Del Rio and driving hundreds (thousands on the Mexican side) of families out of flooded homes. Red Cross shelters in some of those inland counties stayed open into August.
The Hill Country is vulnerable to the same thing...a tropical system that parks and pours for days. In the current drought, that doesn’t sound too bad, but the reality is that it could mean dangerously fast water, damaging floods, and a big need to shelter neighbors forced from their homes or travelers stranded unexpectedly.
In a situation like that, the first line of defense is us — the people who live here. The Red Cross will help, but we’re the ones who’ll need to start setting up cots and fixing dinner. We may only need to hold the fort until the cavalry arrives, but, if the problem is widespread, we may be the cavalry.
How do we do that? Glad you asked. The American Red Cross will teach you how Saturday, August 28, at 9am at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City. The free course will cover everything you need to know to be a helping hand instead of an interested bystander.
When you finish your class, you may choose to go on the list to get a call when — and if — the shelters open here at home, in a nearby county, or in another state...your choice.
Why now? Because we’ve already had six weeks of flooding in Texas and a lot of storms in the Gulf of Mexico, and the predicted busy tropical season hasn’t peaked yet.
And even if we get lucky and miss out on that, fall is tornado and thunderstorm season, followed by winter storm season, and so on. In Blanco County, there’s always a chance of a catastrophic problem.
With your help, there’ll always be a local solution to those problems.
The course is free, but to make sure there are enough training materials for everyone, please call JoAnn at 868-7414 to sign up for the class.