New emergency shelter resources will help Red Cross respond

kterhune@idahostatesman.comNovember 12, 2013 

Five new trailers acquired by the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho hold enough supplies to help 100 people each. They'll be dispatched around the state to emergency situations.

KATIE TERHUNE

— Some members of the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho are calling it an early Christmas present.

The organization has added five trailers filled with emergency supplies for people in crisis situations to its resources. The trailers are designed to move quickly to wherever they’re needed, Red Cross Regional CEO Nicole Sirak Irwin said.

One of the trailers was purchased with a Citizen Corps grant that pulled money from Ada City-County Emergency Management and the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security. The other four were bought with funding from the M.J. Murdoch Charitable Trust.

Ada County Commissioner Dave Case, who attended the Tuesday unveiling, said the decision to get behind the Red Cross’ push for new resources was an easy one.

“Every time you think of disasters happening, wherever it may be, in our county or nationwide, the first [organization] that comes to mind is the American Red Cross,” he said. “They’re always there.”

Each trailer contains enough supplies to care for 100 people. Contents include 100 cots, cot covers, blankets, pillows, comfort kits and other supplies.

The comfort kits, put together by local Boy Scout chapters and church groups, contain essentials like shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and other toiletries.

The kits can be essential in emergency situations in which a family may have little time to pack.

“Imagine three o’clock in the morning in Hailey, when you’re asked to evacuate in the middle of the night,” Irwin said, referring to the summer Beaver Creek Fire that forced hundreds from their homes. “Imagine this is all you have left.”

The trailers can be moved around to different locations around Idaho and even cross state lines if there is an emergency, Irwin said.

“That’s what’s nice about having them agile: If we had a need for a large group of people to stay with us, we just bring them,” she said.

In a major disaster, all five could be dispatched to the same area.

Irwin said this season’s wildfires showed a need for more resources in emergency situations. Although fire season is still many months away, it’s never too early to start planning, she said.

“We do all the planning in what we call ‘blue sky’ so we’re ready for ‘gray sky,’” she said.

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