MARK GILLESPIE/Livingston County News
Bob Smith of Frontier Communications speaks at last Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in Hampton Corners.
Red Cross dedicated disaster relief trailer
In a ceremony at the Hampton Corners Emergency Management Headquarters last Tuesday, Aug. 7, the Livingston County Department of Emergency Management, Frontier Communications and the American Red Cross unveiled a new disaster relief trailer which will be serving the county and region.
“It’s nice we have something like this which we can deploy at a moment’s notice,” said Northern Livingston County Red Cross Director David Parish. “Otherwise we are loading cots, blankets and other supplies out of the county building whenever a need arises.”
The trailer can be readily transported to a central shelter location. Its contents will be able to equip the shelter for persons who have been forced from their homes in the wake of a disaster or emergency. The trailer has capacity to create what Parish describes as a “medium-size shelter,” able to accommodate about 75 individuals.
Livingston County Director of Emergency Management Kevin Niedermaier said the trailer is another example of the strong partnership his agency has built with the southern and northern chapters of the Red Cross.
“It’s going to be a great asset for us — and it will get used,” Niedermaier asserted, noting that during his 17 year directorship, the county has seen 13 presidential disaster declarations. Shelters established in connection with those disasters did not have the expediency and benefit of a trailer, he added.
“We were hauling supplies in pick-up trucks or whatever we could find — running here and there to pick things up,” Niedermaier remembers.
“The trailer will now be a key component and play a critical role in supplying relief shelters to our citizens when they need them most,” he added.
Of the 13 disasters during his tenure, Niedermaier estimates there were about nine “hard disasters that really affected us — when the trailer would have made a huge difference.”
“The trailer can equip a shelter wherever it is sent. It’s all the resources in one box, ready to go,” Niedermaier advised. “It will be kept here at Hampton Corners, safe and secure and ready to roll when the call arrives.”
Red Cross volunteer David Warren also attested to the trailer’s value.
When Warren was volunteering on Long Island with Hurricane Irene approaching, he recalled, “We used a set up similar to this to supply cots and open a shelter in a high school.” Approximately 60 people in the North Shore community, who did not feel safe staying in their homes, made use of the shelter.
Warren recalled another use of a trailer just last month, when tornados struck the Elmira area. A trailer assisted the establishment of a shelter at the Elmira Free Academy, where 63 people who lost electric power in their homes spent several days.
“When it’s needed, it’s invaluable to have everything loaded, ready to go and portable — to get to the location where it has to be,” Warren said, adding, “No one wants to stay in a Red Cross shelter unless it’s absolutely necessary — but sometimes it is absolutely necessary, and that’s what we want to be ready for.”
Melonie Barnas-Simmons, Red Cross Finger Lakes Region Gift Officer, explained how the county’s need for a disaster relief trailer coincided with a spare which Frontier Communications happened to have on hand. She noted how, at Hampton Corners, the trailer would be poised “to go anywhere up and down I-390 to help out anywhere in the Finger Lakes region.”
Bob Smith of Frontier Communications stated that Frontier puts great value on its community involvement.
“It’s important for us to be active in all of our communities,” he said. “We are very proud to have the partnership with the Red Cross and glad we could make the donation.”
Smith also noted his personal involvement with Red Cross, as a Dansville native who grew up within site of the Chapter 1 Building, and in December, when his own home experienced a major fire.
“Knowing that the Red Cross is there to bring relief is something that is very assuring for the people of this community,” he said.
Smith concluded by handing the trailer keys to Simmons in a ceremonial transfer of ownership.
“As nice as the trailer is, I truly hope it doesn’t have to be used 13 times,” he added.