Following a consolidation of space, staff and volunteers with The Red Cross of Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas look to partner with local agencies in distributing/storing some of its disaster resources.
In the last few years, the Red Cross nationally and locally has been “assessing its resources and creating efficiencies,” said Don Zanon, disaster team coordinator for the Red Cross’ office in Carlsborg at 151 Ruth’s Place.
Part of that included a recent downsizing of the Carlsborg office from two suites to one.
“Our chapter started in 1917 and like any organization it evolves with time,” Zanon said. “The Carlsborg office we’ve had for about 10 years. (The chapter) has been located in Port Angeles and Sequim and it was set up for the needs at the time.”
In the local chapter’s 100-plus years, Zanon said they’ve acquired a lot of disaster readiness items but not all of it was needed. Some of the second suite in Carlsborg housed old records, outdated literature, fundraising items and more, he said.
Steve Finley, disaster program manager for local Red Cross chapter that includes Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties, said their emergency items range from cots to blankets to bath care items.
Carlsborg’s office last hosted paid staff operating out of it about four years ago, Zanon said, and it currently opens 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Volunteers run the office, he said, and remain on-call 24 hours a day for emergencies.
Their most recent effort was supporting a house fire victim in Sequim.
Finley, who oversees the Carlsborg office, operates in Bremerton coordinating the Red Cross of Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas’ more than 150 active disaster response volunteers.
Washington hosts seven chapters and the Olympic Peninsula’s Red Cross chapter joined Kitsap County a few years ago, Finley said, after it branched off from King County.
“A lot of the plan is to get the direct services out in the field rather than having a top heavy administration,” Finley said. “We’ve gone away from that model and even in Washington, D.C. it’s more of a coordination center.”
Zanon said Red Cross leaders wanted to keep a satellite office in Carlsborg but asked to look for partners to share/store items for emergencies.
Red Cross volunteers have spoken to a number of entities, he said, with Clallam Transit storing some resources and the City of Sequim and Clallam County Fire District 3 considering long-term options for emergency storage.
The Red Cross stores cots, blankets and other equipment in trailers in multiple spots across the West End, including Clallam Bay, Forks, and Neah Bay for emergencies, too. They’ve also partnered with residents in Joyce to store items in their emergency container, Zanon said.
“We just didn’t need all the space we had,” he said. “I think it’s a good plan. Resources are made more available. If something happens, they can be drawn from rather than being stored in one place. Something in one location may not ever make it to another location in an event like the (Cascadia subduction zone earthquake).”
The Carlsborg office remains a training and meeting area, Zanon said, and they continue to seek new volunteers.
Finley said the Red Cross’ two major focuses are immediate assistance, whether for a house fire or mass emergency, and for mass care in an emergency such as sheltering, feeding, and family reunification.
Red Cross leaders say they help with fire prevention too, including a successful recent effort to install smoke alarms in a Carlsborg neighborhood.
Up next, Finley said they’ll be working with emergencies managers, such as the fire districts, to “have a clear understanding with what we can do and what people can expect when a disaster happens.”
“We have a good relationship with emergency managers already, but it never hurts to update information,” he said.
The Red Cross of Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas in Carlsborg opens 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 151 Ruth’s Place, Sequim. Contact it at 360-457-7933 or visit www.redcross.org.