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July 5, 2017
What if a major disaster were to happen in your home town? Do you know what to do in the event of a disaster? On Friday, June 16th, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster of Larimer County (VOAD+) held a disaster simulation for their partner organizations, including UWLC. VOAD+ partners helped plan and put together the simulation with the materials provided by Ready Montana. United Way provides a 2-1-1 call center that assists the public and provides answers regarding community services in times of peace and disaster. To raise awareness of emergency preparedness in the community United Way of Larimer County will help any interested company, organization, or church host a disaster simulation.
Some past disasters we have experienced in Larimer County include the 2008 Windsor tornado, 2012 High Park fire, and the 2013 flood. These disasters affected the whole community and caused hardship among many of the individuals involved. The 2013 flood left Glen Haven without power, and crews from Fort Collins and Estes Park worked together to restore it. The town of Windsor was struck by a tornado with very little warning, causing property damage and concerns to health and safety.
Disaster simulations are designed to help community members realize the importance of being personally prepared, understand the various organizations involved in a disaster response and how individuals can help, and to learn about the process of recovering from a disaster. Through this the Larimer County community can prepare to help prevent or minimize the loss or damage to life, property, and the environment. The community will also have the ability to quickly return citizens back to work, re-open businesses, and restore other essential services needed for a full and timely economic recovery.
During the disaster simulation, participants were put in the shoes of community members after a disaster has occurred. Roles participants played in the disaster simulation included survivors, volunteers, and members of service organizations. The scenario for this simulation was the aftermath of a community affected by a wildfire. Many of the people had lost pets, family members, and all of their belongings. It was interesting watching all the people rushing around going to the different organizations looking for help.
Simulations are good practice because community members can become familiar with the organizations in their community and what they do and/or will provide. When a disaster happens the whole community is involved and affected. These simulations help everyone be prepared and remember what to do if a major disaster or emergency were to occur.
Volunteer participants acting as deaf and blind couple (pictured above) stuck at road closure.
This disaster simulation was a test run done with people who work with our community service organizations. Even though the participants were somewhat familiar with the service organizations in the simulation, some of the participants said it was difficult to find the right organization to help them with their need. Being in the simulation the participants experienced the long lines, the confused people in the midst of trying to find help or loved ones, and the noisy and chaotic environment. One man said “If you’re feeling overwhelmed you’re probably doing it right.”
Volunteer participants waiting in line at American Red Cross emergency services.
All disasters start and end locally. Being prepared for it is a shared responsibility. We are dedicated to informing and educating our community to be prepared for emergencies or a major disaster. Knowing the resources in our community will help us be better prepared and will help our community quickly recover.
To host a disaster simulation contact United Way of Larimer County's 2-1-1 community liaison, Teri Dyer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-407-7023. For information regarding community services to help with your need, please call United Way's 2-1-1 call center.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County