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Preparing Students For Disaster In Casselton

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It really is an opportunity to talk about things that can be a little bit scary.

Just over two years ago, the town of Casselton, North Dakota faced a unique emergency. A train derailment led to evacuations in the city, after toxic smoke threatened homes. All residents of the rural North Dakota town remember that day, especially the children.

“It was scary,” said Casselton 5th grader, Kace Christensen.

The Red Cross spent a week making sure all students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade will know how to react in case another emergency situation occurs.  Staff and volunteers worked with teachers for four days to instruct over 200 students in emergency preparedness.

"We got excited about this because it is a curriculum because it teaches kids how to respond and react to disaster situations,” said Central Cass Superintendent, Morgan Forness. “It really is an opportunity to talk about things that can be a little bit scary, so they know what happens if they have to evacuate or shelter in place.”

Red Cross instructors show students and how to be ready and how to cope, using a workbook that includes contact information and plans. Each student then gets their own pillowcase they can decorate and personalize for supply items.

"We put everything we really need in there,” said 3rd grader, Caleb Christensen.

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by college students during Hurricane Katrina, as they hauled their relief items in their pillowcases.

“It was great to see the students so engaged throughout the whole week,” said Red Cross Disaster Program Manager, Jessica Kulzer. “