Dawn Rye | Writer
A disaster can be defined as an event that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, causing severe disturbances to people or destruction of community property, or severe damage to the environment.
Chancellor Reformed Church Pastor Marc deWaard had a conversation with City Finance Officer Heath McManaman, about exploring a FEMA grant for a generator and making the church a disaster relief site. Once the idea was in motion, Rebecca Giddens, Disaster Program Manager of the Red Cross toured the building in April regarding the shelter facility requirements to move forward. deWaard explained that a “shelter facility survey” had been completed and the board gives the approval to proceed to the next steps.
McManaman said that in 2019, the city took part in updating the Turner County pre-disaster hazard mitigation plan to work with the Chancellor Reformed Church to designate the church as a shelter for town residents. Once the church was set, the city applied for a hazard mitigation grant for an automatic emergency backup generator. A
deWaard explained that a few years ago, the church was awarded a $1,000 grant to prepare the church to be the community disaster relief site. Some items in the church they are looking at are a stairlift down to their basement (to aid those who might be physically challenged in doing stairs) and a blue cross in the parking lot for a helicopter landing pad.
McManaman explained in 2021, the town was awarded the HMGP grant for the generator project estimated at $64,200.00, with a federal grant of $48,150.00 and a state grant of $6,420.00. The town’s general fund will match the balance of the project.
deWaard said that in the next three months, representatives from the sheriff’s department, town council, fire department, emergency managers of Turner and even Lincoln County and church council to go over protocol. The protocol would consist of entry into the building, generator usage, having a “preparedness team,” and whatever else this group will put into place to ensure the safety of folks entering during a disaster.
In the event of a disaster, the Red Cross would come on-site within four hours, bring personnel food, cots and blankets. deWaard noted that since the generator belongs to Chancellor, residents would have first dibs to the campus in an emergency.