The American Red Cross Monterey Bay Area Chapter volunteers have been working hard to renovate their fleet of shelter trailers, which are used to transport shelter equipment supplies during local disasters.
With the aid of a $10,000 grant from the Robert & Virginia Stanton Endowment at the Community Foundation for Monterey County, several Monterey Bay Area Chapter volunteers and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members have been checking, cleaning, and restocking the 12 shelter trailers across the entire Chapter.
Daniella Zapata, Community Relations Manager for the Monterey Bay Area Chapter, said the trailers are used in a local disaster, like an apartment fire, to quickly bring crucial supplies to where they are needed.
"A disaster trailer is stocked with everything you need for a disaster shelter,” Daniella said. “Monterey Bay Area is a large Chapter, encompassing Monterey and San Benito Counties, and some people are very far from help. We’re doing the best we can to try to get the trailers fixed up and ready to go."
According to the Monterey Bay Area Chapter’s Logistics Lead, Sharon Forrest, each trailer needs a long list of supplies to ensure a successful deployment in an emergency. The project involved checking and repacking each item in a similar layout so supplies are easily accessible in an emergency.
Supplies include nursing and administration kits, cots, blankets, coffee and hot chocolate, flashlights, paper towels, diapers, and other necessities required to set up a shelter.
Sharon said the scale of the project was apparent when they opened up the trailers. She said the project is on its way to completion, and she hopes to be finished by the end of May.
"We're going to have a party when were done!" she said.
Disasters can happen at any time, and Red Cross volunteers have to be ready to set up an emergency shelter in a matter of hours. An example of when the trailers Sharon and her team are restocking were used is the 2011 Villa Allegre Apartments building fire in King City where 60 people were displaced. While the fire was quickly put out and the residents were unharmed, the residents were left stranded late at night, with no food, clothes, or anywhere to sleep.
The Red Cross provided a shelter at King City High School, where 30 residents stayed for five days. Shelters such as this one are initially stocked from the disaster trailers, which are spread around the two-county area and can quickly be deployed.
The project is taking place at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), which is allowing the Red Cross to park trailers and store supplies at their location.
Volunteers who have been key to the project include Sharon Forrest, Jeff Bryant, Liz Ford, Rick Havens, Pam Breslin, Michael Holland, Colleen Pires, Marsha Zelus, Cathy Solms, Dennis Alexander, Rick Havens, and Pete Torres.