Last evening, a Fraser Valley Emergency Social Services team hosted an exercise, inviting the teams from the surrounding communities. The exercise was for Group Lodging. What is that, you say? Group Lodging is provision for accommodations and food for large groups of disaster evacuees, in the event that commercial lodging (hotels) is unavailable, or insufficient to meet the need. The plan was to have as many as possible stay the night. Because I’m just at the end of a head cold, and DH is just starting in on his – he stayed home, and I went just for a few hours to see what I could learn.
It was a great exercise – practice in registering evacuees (mostly we just filled out our own forms) and completing a referral form. There were some practicing Meet and Greet (first person to meet the evacuees at the door, and direct them to the appropriate place according to need), some practicing Logistics (making sure everybody has everything they need), lots of people participating in the setup of the space. The director was overseeing everything, and one person was designated as Group Lodging Manager. Just watching the organization was fascinating.
The spaces for cots were outlined on the floor – 40 square feet per cot – amazing how small that space is when you think that it may be your only space to ‘live’ in for a few days. But oh, how thankful one would be to have shelter if actually evacuated from your home. Interestingly, the cots were little ‘tents’. This way, when the folks crawled into bed at the end of the evening, they could have complete privacy – there was a certain amount of assurance in knowing that.
In this area, there’s almost always consideration of spring flooding. Last year there were numerous homes evacuated because of it, and ESS was right there to help get folks into temporary accommodation, and fed and clothed as needed. They didn’t need to set up Group Lodging then, but this year, with the Olympics in Vancouver, commercial lodging will be virtually non-existent for a few weeks in February. So, if there are evacuations for any reason, Group Lodging would be the answer.
Besides the experience of observing and participating in the exercise, learning more about what I can do as an ESS member, and being better prepared in the event of evacuations in our community, I got a great sense of comfort knowing that ESS is there. ESS teams all over BC are in need of qualified, trained workers (training provided) – if you’re reading this and interested at all, simply contact your local Community Services and they can direct you.
This exercise also gave me a little glimpse into some of what Disaster Relief teams do when they travel to other countries – and with the people of Haiti experiencing their disaster right now, I know that many, many are there and/or headed there to give them the assistance they need. My prayers are with the Haitians and with the relief folks as they struggle through getting their lives back to something like normal.
On a personal level, I thought I was prepared for an evacuation, with an emergency box all set up, and a list of what to add if we ever got told to evacuate. But some of our discussion last night highlighted the fact that I’m not nearly as prepared as I could and should be – what if our house caught fire while we weren’t at home, and we couldn’t return to it to get that emergency box. So now to work through setting up a grab-and-go bag that will meet the needs in that event, probably to keep in the car.
The question of the day is ‘ARE YOU PREPARED?’
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.
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