Identification for volunteers! Improve communication with working volunteers! Ease the load on team managers!
Those and other needs and improvements came flying Saturday when the Blanco County Disaster Response Group met to review its “silent” shelter work during Hurricane Ike, and find ways to do a better job whenever the next time comes.
Some improvements already came through pure luck.
Game Night, the regular Friday night table games that rotates among churches in Johnson City and Stonewall, by chance was scheduled for the First United Methodist Church the same night six evacuees arrived seeking shelter.
The quick decision both games and shelter would go forward, and the guests joined in the games with a hot round of dominoes.
Lesson: Whenever we open a shelter, round up table-game players to help keep shelter guests entertained.
The food-service team had snacks and light meals for short-term guests, but if we had to open for full service, we’d need heavier-duty cooking. Our shelters have that capability, but could they all cook if the electricity were out, as it was in the Houston area?
Lesson: Be prepared to cook without electricity, which may require some patchwork but is possible.
Another question was how we’d feed 100 people three meals a day if we had to open with full services for our maximum population.
The answer was to rely on outside sources. A spotty survey of restaurants and groceries showed support with free or discounted meals is available in the community, especially if the guests we house are our Blanco County neighbors.
Lesson: Feeding 100 people doesn’t mean cooking 100 meals; food service can lean on outside resources to get the job done.
If you’d like to look over the group’s plan and make your own comments and suggestions, it’s posted on line. Ideas will be collected for another week before the plan is rewritten and updated. Go to blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org and look up the shelter management plan. All ideas are welcome.