Hurricane shelter managers sought

Training session starts tonight

Shelter Operations, a subcommittee of Hazard Management, is seeking volunteers to become hurricane shelter managers.

Lynda Mitchell, who helps administer the shelters through the Department of Children and Family Services, said the majority of shelter managers from previous years return.

‘But we always have a few that leave for various reasons,’ she said. ‘Some have left the island; one or two were rolled over.’

The current recruitment is also aimed at increasing the number of shelter managers. Ms Mitchell pointed out that there are 15 government-supervised hurricane shelters, plus the Red Cross shelter, which government supports indirectly.

‘It takes a lot of people to man those shelters,’ she said, adding that consideration has to be taken for shift work since managers have to be at the shelters on a 24-hour basis and the job is quite demanding.

‘We have to make sure every single shelter is covered,’ she said.

Shelters are manned by a group of people that includes shelter managers and representatives from the police services, the Department of Environmental Health, the Health Services Authority and the Red Cross.

Shelter managers volunteers only have to have two qualifications.

‘They have to be able and willing,’ said Ms. Mitchell, adding that there is no age limit for hurricane shelter managers.

Previous experience is not necessary either because a two-day training session will be held tonight and tomorrow night at Prospect Primary School.

Ms. Mitchell said last year more than 100 people attended the training session, which was spread out over three days. However, it was decided to condense the training session to two days this year.

‘Three days was a little long,’ she said.

Those that complete the training course will get a certificate for their accomplishment. Ms Mitchell said the certificate, among other things, can show involvement in community service.

‘It’s a good, noble thing to do,’ she said.

After the training, the volunteers won’t have much to do unless a hurricane approaches and the shelters are opened.

Ms. Mitchell said its always better to have more than enough shelter managers because even though some people take the training with the best intentions in mind, there are factors that make knowing the exact numbers of shelter managers available at any given time unpredictable. Some people might be on holiday; some might decide to take their family off island; others might be called into work.

‘The more shelter managers, the better,’ she said.

Those interested in attending the training session can call Ms Mitchell at 949-0290 or 925-5346.