Yesterday DH and I got our first taste of responding to a disaster. We'd been grocery shopping, and when we got home, about 1230, I started to put some rye bread in the bread machine. As I opened the new bag of rye flour, I discovered DH had picked up the wrong bag. Oh, brother. So, a supposed quick run to the local grocery store took a little extra time. As I rounded the corner to go onto the 'highway' I found it completely blocked by ambulance, police, Salvation Army and way more fire trucks than could be found in Agassiz at any given time. This section of the highway runs between a gas station and an apartment building. The side street beside the apartment building had another half dozen fire trucks parked as well. No sign of fire or smoke. I found a way around, got the flour, came home and told DH about the 'exercise'.
DH then went off shortly after that for his regular visit to the local gym. There he learned that the fire in the apartment building had been at 800 am. We had heard no sirens!! We kind of wondered why we hadn't received a call to assist with the disaster response, but assumed that we were too new to the team to be of any real help. Our philosophy has always been to stay away from emergencies when the experts are already there, as we could potentially just get in the way and contribute to traffic jams and confusion.
About 3:30, the phone rang - it was Rita, our local ESS director. Yes, we certainly were needed - they just hadn't got our phone number into the ESS cell phone yet and it took that long for her to have the time to look us up and call. We, of course responded immediately.
What a wonderful team. The acting fire chief was explaining next steps to the evacuees as we arrived at the local high school library. Once that was finished, we were put right to work helping to register people for lodging, food, clothing, transportation and incidentals. The local Fields store was available for clothing, SuperValu for food, hotels in Harrison for lodging, a couple of restaurants for those that wouldn't have cooking facilities, a school bus arranged to transport people to the hotel if they didn't have a vehicle of their own. DH was then assigned to track people going into the building to retrieve necessities, like medication and pets (some were at work and cats chose to hide). We heard of no injuries or deaths, thank the Lord.
The A&W apparently provided burgers and coffee for the fire-fighters, there was sandwiches, water and juice in the library for the victims and emergency workers apparently provided by the Salvation Army mobile food service (the truck at the scene earlier in the day).
We learned so much about the process and the services that are provided - more than we could ever learn sitting in classrooms, which is the plan for today. There are several courses for Emergency Social Services volunteers - today we learn about Reception Centers. So we're off in just a couple of hours to get educated. I now so much more appreciate the people who respond to these disasters. And I'm invigorated and excited to be learning about this and to be able to assist if something like this ever occurs again.
My prayers are with the 60 or 70 people who filtered through the Reception Center yesterday, living in temporary lodging for the next couple of days, trying to get their lives sorted out, some of them unable to return to their homes until repairs are done, which of course could be months. The true extent of the damage won't be determined until early next week.
I'm so glad that you stopped by, and hope that you enjoy your visit. Here you will find pieces of my life - quilting, cross-stitch, family, travel, friends.
My name is Peg - I am a 60ish wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend - and if we're not already related or friends, hope to become your friend too.
We live in the eastern end of the beautiful Fraser Valley, about 1.5 hours east of Vancouver, BC. Empty nesters, we have one son living just a few minutes away, our other son and daughter live in Alberta.
Comments are always welcome, always read - and answered if need be. Feel free to share, I love hearing from all my cyber-space friends.
Please do check out some of the links in my side-bar - you'll find other bloggers and fabulous people to visit.