Red Cross Volunteers Set For Disaster Drill

It's more than just our Skywarn 6 meteorologists who are making preparations for severe weather season.  The American Red Cross is getting its volunteers ready, too, and the best way to do that is to have a fake disaster.

"Because of where we live, we actually have more of a danger for natural disasters than even the coastal plains do," said Katrina Farmer, the Executive Director of the local Red Cross chapter.

Whether it's snow or ice storms, tornados, flooding, or wildfires, the Red Cross responds to victims' needs when disaster strikes.  That's why a state-wide disaster assessment drill is planned for tomorrow.

"It'll be just like they were at the disaster, but they won't have to deal with no street signs or trees in the road and that kind of thing," Farmer said.

30 volunteers will be hitting the streets in a specified section of Archer City to assess damage after a mock tornado.  They'll be looking at situational photos to determine if a home was only affected by the twister, has minor or major damage, or if its destroyed.  Homeowners in the disaster area aren't required to participate...if they choose not to, their home is simply listed as one with no damage.  Farmer says the drill will help determine if the training for volunteers is effective.

"It's a great way to learn how to do the job that they need to do in a non-stressful, very organized situation," she said.

Volunteers will use radios to pass along the information about each of the sixty homes involved in the drill, because of course, phone lines could well be down after a tornado.  The assessment information will go to Ft. Worth and then to Dallas so the chapter there knows how many trucks, people, and how much food and water to send to the area.  Ultimately, Farmer says the collaborative relationships are strengthened so everyone know whom to report to in case of a real emergency.

Volunteers will start assessing the mock damage at about 9:30 tomorrow Saturday morning between Ash Street and Oak Street in Archer City.