June 1 was a lovely day in our part of the
state until 5 p.m. Although the Upper Merrimack Valley encountered
only a severe thunderstorm, reports emerged that a series of tornadoes
were ripping across Western MA, especially in Hamden County. Responders
in that area provided initial care for several days while assessing
Our own unit was not contacted during that
first week. However, we promptly posted news
of the event on our web site, with tips on keeping safe in weather
emergencies. By June 6 we were asked to deploy members to help at
two emergency shelters in the Springfield area.
West Springfield shelter was opened in a dormitory that is
typically used during the annual 'Big E' exposition. Teachers
at local schools helped with meals. Residents stayed in bunk
beds with mattresses.
Staffing was provided by multiple agencies
for consecutive shifts throughout the month of June.
MRC Director Sandy Collins reviewed the First Aid station
during a site visit. Small children could be watched in front
of this area, where signs were posted in multiple languages.
We followed up with our volunteers for their
input, using both via e-mails and phone calls shortly after each
person returned. In addition, we gathered after the deployment with
all who could participate, to collect any last feedback as a group
while showing our appreciation for their services.
received certificates to acknowledge their service, along
with MRC note pads as tokens of appreciation.
We are truly grateful for each volunteer who
provided care for the hundreds of displaced residents during their
time of extreme need. Furthermore, we
value the candid input from our members, which helps in after-action
analysis of the response and how to make improvements for responding
to any future disasters.