Home News COVID-19 Situation Emergency shelter in planning stages

Emergency shelter in planning stages

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Plans for a community emergency shelter are coming together and the director of the organization behind it hopes to have it available for use in a few months.

Enrique Moreno, director of Roswell Community Disaster Services, said he is working on writing a field guide or manual for shelter volunteers, who he hopes to begin training in April or May.

Moreno said he will be in touch with local officials including Roswell/Chaves County Emergency Management Director Karen Sanders, law enforcement and other first responders to let them know about the shelter and to get feedback on the field guide.

Because his organization is small and doesn’t have a large chain of command, the shelter could open quickly when needed, he said.

That could be helpful in a situation like the snowstorm in late October, when Moreno joined with local churches and the city to open a warming center at the Roswell Adult Center as the snow began to fall.

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“We had to step up as individuals, nonprofits and work together to open one up. This will give us the option to still do that without having to worry about borrowing cots from other agencies because we have our own,” he said.

“I figured let’s make it official. Let’s make sure we’re insured, let’s make sure we have the volunteers who are trained,” Moreno said.

He has a location, but is waiting for approval from the board of directors that governs the organization before disclosing where it will be.

The shelter would be used during a disaster when a large number of people are displaced from their homes, Moreno said.

“If there’s a tornado, a big snowstorm, big power outage, flooding, the center will open and we’ll handle about 80 people,” he said. “That includes somewhere to sleep, restroom facilities, meals, snacks, spiritual care.”

It could supplement a larger shelter run by the city or Red Cross or operate on its own, he said. It could also be used as a relief station for first responders during an emergency.

Moreno has been raising funds and campaigning for donations of cots and other supplies. He has about 50 adult cots and hopes to get 30 cots for children.

With the help of 7-year-old Rex Putman and his family, Moreno raised more than $2,000 to purchase a HEPA air filter and cots. Other individuals have also purchased cots and will be recognized with tags on each cot with their names, Moreno said.

Contracts for food service are lined up and hotels have donated linens to use.

Moreno said the field guide will serve as an operations manual for the volunteers in setting up, running the shelter and closing it down. Privacy issues will be outlined, including setting up breastfeeding and diaper changing areas.

The shelter will accept service animals, but pets or emotional support animals would have to be sheltered at another location. Moreno said he plans to contact a local rescue agency about offering shelter to those animals.

“It’s a lot to do because usually you have a lot of agencies that work together to put a guide together like that and in this case it’s pretty much me doing it. So I have to squeeze in typing at night when I get home,” Moreno said.

Moreno has drawn on guides from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and his experience volunteering with the Red Cross.

The community has been supportive of the project, Moreno said.

“This is a great community. They see we’re dedicated and they know that we’ll be there for them in the event of a disaster,” Moreno said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

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