Designation would allow Red Cross to provide services at club in case of emergency, including natural disaster

Charbonneau resident Sandy Batte said that if her home came crashing down, bustling to Charbonneau Country Club for shelter and assistance would likely be her first instinct. And, in that regard, she doesn't think she's outside the norm.

"In the event of the earthquake, any big building is going to automatically become a shelter of some kind," Batte said. "People gravitate toward that."

To provide better assistance to such people, the Charbonneau Country Club Board of Directors is considering designating the Club as an official American Red Cross shelter, so that that in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, the Red Cross could travel to the club and provide assistance to those afflicted. Services might include providing materials such as cots and blankets, counseling and relocation assistance.

The CCC Board is currently accepting public comment from Charbonneau residents about the idea.

"So far we've only received positive responses," Batte said. "People seem to think it's a good idea and make a positive impact on the community."

According to the Red Cross website, the organization responds to nearly 64,000 disasters yearly, 90 percent of which are home fires, and 95 percent of disaster relief workers are trained volunteers.

The idea to institute the Red Cross shelter was borne out of discussions within the CCC Emergency Preparedness Committee, which Batte is a part of.

"The committee is discussing ways to build resilience within the community. We kept looking at scenarios. What would happen if we had a fire? What if the big one (earthquake) hit? So the Red Cross came to mind because they are the experts at responding to emergencies," Batte said. "We would then have the expertise, the backup of the professionals, the people who know how to do this."

Batte said the shelters are typically open for about three days and would be available to people outside the Charbonneau community. According to a recent article in the Charbonneau Villager, CCC could shelter approximately 90 people and would be open on a first-come, first-serve basis.

In the case of an emergency, the Red Cross could either call CCC officials to ask them if they can host the temporary shelter or CCC could ask the Red Cross if they would host the shelter. When the Red Cross shelter is active, the club would be closed.

"A lot of our homes have shared walls. If we have a fire in one (home) there's a possibility all three would not be livable," Batte said. "If we had a fire, we could call them and ask if they could bring a shelter to the clubhouse."

As Batte acknowledges, designating CCC a Red Cross shelter wouldn't be a panacea. In the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake, the Red Cross likely would not be able to reach Charbonneau to provide assistance. And Charbonneau doesn't have an organized strategy for providing locals transportation to the club either.

However, shelter volunteers would hold training sessions for residents to better prepare them for the worst.

"The City, County and State keep saying 'You're going to be on your own,'" Batte said about if a natural disaster were to strike. "At least we would have the training and knowledge to help make it work in those situations."

Along with coming up with the idea for the shelter, the Emergency Preparedness Committee has distributed pamphlets that provide instruction on how to handle a crisis to residents across Charbonneau and organized a fair so people could buy useful products to brave a catastrophe.

"We've had ice storms in the past and people without power for a week. For seniors living alone these can be major issues," Batte said. "How do

we build resilience in the community to address those needs?"

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