OCEAN CITY – A disaster trailer will be positioned in Ocean City by the Lower Shore chapter of the American Red Cross fully prepared to set up a shelter and assist others in case of an emergency.
American Red Cross Lower Shore Chapter Executive Director John Culp and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors Madalaine How came before the Mayor and City Council Tuesday to ask the town to participate in the chapter’s effort to match a grant from the Perdue Foundation for the purpose of purchasing disaster trailers.
According to Culp, two years ago Wal-Mart gave the National Red Cross a $3 million grant to fund disaster supplies for chapters in “vulnerable” geographic areas, who were deemed to have insufficient resources. Out of 150 chapters that applied, 30 were chosen and the Lower Shore was one of them.
With the Wal-Mart funding, the chapter chose a disaster/shelter trailer, which is a single axle, fully enclosed trailer with interior and exterior lighting, a side door, a rear fold-down loading ramp, galvanized fenders, among other things, delivered to the chapter fully loaded with 50 cots, blankets, pillows and almost everything necessary to set up a shelter.
“It is a very important and productive piece of equipment,” Culp said. “One of the values to these things is that you can pre-position them and put them where you expect to have trouble and it cuts the time to open a shelter down to almost nothing.”
Culp furthered, the intent of the trailer is to provide an asset that could be quickly deployed to set up a shelter and then be available to haul other emergency supplies, such as water and food, or it could be positioned in a venerable area for the most rapid response.
Culp submitted that the trailer has proven to the most useful piece of the limited amount of equipment that the Chapter has. During Hurricane Irene, it was on the road for four days straight servicing seven shelters in Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset counties.
Culp added that on a day-to-day basis the trailer is used as a billboard and attraction at community events as a backdrop for outreach efforts. It has also been used to haul general supplies to events like last summer’s Dew Tour in Ocean City where crews ran a First Aid station.
If the American Red Cross Lower Shore Chapter were to acquire a second trailer, officials intend to station it in Ocean City and another on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
A plus to having a second trailer is the chapter would be able to assist shelter efforts on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, which they are also responsible for. During Hurricane Irene, the chapter was unable to supply as much support to this area as they would have liked because they did not have the materials and the distance in traveling was time consuming for the one trailer.
“It was lessons learned in Irene that led us to make this request,” Culp said.
Several months ago, the chapter approached the Perdue Foundation for $27,000 for two trailers, which cost $13,500 each. Perdue agreed with the reasoning and gave a matching grant, meaning they will fund one trailer if the chapter can raise the funding for the second.
With that said, Culp asked the Mayor and City Council for half of the cost for the second trailer, or $6,750. The other half has already been raised from other sources.
“It sounds like a great thing and obviously we would redeem benefit from in case of a catastrophe,” Councilman Doug Cymek said as he made a motion to approve the request.
The council voted 6-0, with Councilman Joe Hall absent, to approve the funding of $6,750 for a disaster trailer to be placed in Ocean City.