I read recently of the closing of the Red Cross office in York County. This move makes entirely no sense for the residents of the county.
When I worked there in disaster assistance, we covered many home fires, flood, etc., and got residents situated in temporary housing and gave them needed support, which they appreciated. But, more importantly, we also prepared for hurricane and tornado situations, opening shelters in the county where people people could go if they needed to evacuate.
Sheltering included providing cots and blankets to sleep on, meals and warmth. Also, consider the people from low-lying areas such as Poquoson. Their shelter was the local high school, which has an elevation of only 8 feet. If a storm causes 10 feet of tidal flooding, their shelter would be flooded out. I got the county to open Tabb High School (our closest York County shelter) during any situation that would threaten our neighbors in Poquoson. York County Red Cross provided the people and support.
During hurricane conditions, I was the Red Cross representative in the emergency Operations Center where all support personnel had representatives. If the need for Red Cross support arose, we were there to help. When a tornado hit the Richmond area in 1992-93, we supported the recovery effort in Petersburg with personnel and Red Cross funds to tide them over while they made emergency repairs.
Now, consider removing this York County Red Cross office. There will be no local support. They claim York County support will come from the Hampton Red Cross office, but that would not be timely and in the case of a widespread disaster (hurricane, for example) they would be completely occupied with Hampton residents. Even transportation from Hampton to the county might become impossible.
What good is it for the county to open schools for sheltering when there is no Red Cross staff to support them?
Whoever made this decision must reverse it and reopen the Red Cross office in York County. We have already had some local flooding and expect more before this hurricane season ends. This points at the urgent need for a York County Red Cross office.
Dr. Deene Weidman
James City County