A busy year for CERT

The Community Emergency Response Team is an official volunteer corps for the City of Ashland that is trained for disaster relief and shelter management. This makes them the perfect team to produce the "no-frills" emergency shelters that are deployed whenever the forecast temperature falls below 20 degrees.

Lucy Edwards says they are also opportunities for CERT members to practice their skills.

"It's great that we can get some practice managing shelters," she says. "Even though we were created with larger disaster relief in mind, this is a small version of what that would be like."

January was a busy month for CERT.

Beginning with the large wind and rain storm on the Jan. 4, members were activated to help fill sandbags. Fourteen volunteers responded and made eleven palettes of sandbags, more than 1,000 bags in all.

The temperature dropped from that point forward, with lows at or below freezing most of the month, and CERT volunteers staffed shelters thirteen times throughout the month. When the pass closed on Jan. 31, stranded motorists also took advantage of the shelter.

The average attendance at these shelters is three to six people, but during the week following the snowstorm they reached twelve occupants.

"The atmosphere at the shelter was very welcoming and friendly," said Edwards on the last day the shelter was open. "People appeared so well rested, a couple of folks were able to take showers and wash their clothes. It was such a tough month on everybody; it was just nice to see people warm and dry and doing okay."

CERT also has launched a program called Map Your Neighborhood, essentially a nine step guide to emergency preparedness. The program revolves around getting neighbors together and evaluating their resources and discussing what steps would need to be taken in the event of an evacuation.

For more information on the CERT program contact Lucy Edwards at 552-2226 or cert@ashland.or.us.

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