Large events like Cheyenne Frontier Days and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally bring tens of thousands of people to and through Wyoming – sometimes doubling the local population or more. In the days and weeks leading up to such events, Red Cross staff are quietly working in the background to mobilize volunteers, position resources and make plans so that the Red Cross is ready to respond – “just in case.”
“Although we hope for the best and expect that these events will go off without a hitch, the Red Cross has to think ahead and be prepared for the worst, such what we would do if a natural disaster happened when we have thousands of out-of-town guests in the area and all hotels are full,” explained Cindi Shank, Senior Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Wyoming.
The 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is expected to draw about a million people, many who will ride through Wyoming on their way to South Dakota. In preparation for this year’s event, the Red Cross of Wyoming has stationed a worker and Emergency Response Vehicle in Hulett, assigned a worker to the county Emergency Operations Center, and placed shelter volunteers on standby. Red Cross leaders have also been discussing emergency contingency plans in partnership with other emergency response agencies.
In addition to increasing local readiness to mobilize should sheltering need to happen, the Red Cross is sharing safety and prevention messages to help out-of-town visitors understand the high fire danger in the area.
“People coming in from other states may not realize how dry Wyoming is and that wildfire conditions are high, so we are spreading the word – not just in Wyoming, but in Red Cross social media in neighboring states as well. We’d much rather prevent a disaster than respond to one ,” Shank said.