Local Relief Groups Practice Coming Together During Natural Disaster

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Every year students at Southwestern College kick off their homecoming week with a big volunteer project. This year the project was actually a way for emergency responders to practice a kind of disaster relief they've never done before.

The theme of this year's homecoming service project is 'Hope Amid Disaster.' About 300 students helped pack comfort kits for the Red Cross to pass out to disaster victims.

"I just think it was cool to know that we really don't know where these bags are going but to know that during the next disaster Southwestern is going to play a part in relieving them from that,” Southwestern College Student Hayley Weston said.

But before they filled bags with basic supplies, they took part in a Multi-Agency Resource Center drill. Basically, it's a one stop shop where all kinds of groups that offer help, from the red cross to local food banks, meet in one place.

"So as a disaster victim, as they try to recover, they don't have to shop around. They come to one place to get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Cowley County Emergency Manager Brian Stone said.

About 20 local organizations set up tables and students were divided into groups that represented families affected by a natural disaster.

"Our disaster for my family was a tornado,” Southwestern College Student Tyler Shirley said.

While students got a better idea of what the families face after a disaster, local groups got to practice working together to help their community before disaster strikes.

“It just helps me to understand when a disaster does happen, we will come together and we will work together and we will provide the best service we can. It was just good to see these faces long before the disaster really does happen,” Stone said.

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