Red Cross holds disaster drill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2003

ADAMS -- A tornado ripping through Adams would do some serious damage, but Red Cross volunteers found they could deal with the aftermath in a thorough, organized manner.

The Mower County chapter of the American Red Cross held a disaster drill at the Sacred Heart School in Adams Tuesday. Volunteers were led by Red Cross trainers from around Minnesota and were critiqued by state evaluators throughout the four-hour table-top simulation.

Volunteers said the night's work was rewarding.

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"It gets people motivated," Kathy Hill, of Austin, said. "You never know in these times what might happen."

Participants were told that a tornado had swept through Adams at 3:53 p.m., taking out 25-30 homes and damaging Little Cedar Lutheran Church and Southland School. Local and national Red Cross volunteers had been called into action.

The participants' job was to organize themselves into nine of the groups needed to respond to victims' needs. Areas such as logistics, damage assessment, disaster mental health services and health services were represented.

The volunteers then learned the details about what their group does in disaster situations.

"It gives them insight into the different groups and how they inter-relate," Executive Director for Mower County Red Cross Elaine Hansen said.

The plan participants used will be incorporated into the disaster plan, which needs to be approved by the state. The evaluators help determine whether that plan is effective.

Evaluator Ron Deppa said the groups did well.

"I was very much impressed with your chapter here in Mower County," he said. "It's always a pleasure for me coming down because I know the strengths that you have."

Hansen said volunteers in the disaster response group for the 2000 flood worked well, but they relied too much on outside help from national volunteers. More local organization is needed, she said.

"We had a pretty good disaster group, but not really the depth we needed," she said.

There were 59 participants in the simulation. About 50 of those are already on the list to be called into action if there was a disaster in Mower County, Hansen said. The rest will have to go through a series of classes before they could become a part of the team.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at