There is a team effort going on in the towns of Hambleton and Hendricks to take care of people after a major emergency. The Hambleton town hall has new siding and windows because of money from a grant and the changes inside were possible due to lottery money. However, the contributions of Councilman Matthew Phillips also made the many changes to the building possible. Because of these changes the Town Hall can now serve as a comfortable emergency shelter with a fully accessible handicapped bathroom that includes a shower. Ramps were also constructed at each end of the porch into the town hall itself. Major improvements also included drywall, paint and carpeting throughout. More cooks can work together in the kitchen now because of an island in the center and there is more storage space in the kitchen because of new cabinets. Another big change is rooms were added upstairs to provide sleeping areas for people during an emergency.
The upstairs was at one time a gymnasium where basketball teams around the area practiced, but you would not know that to see it now. Three spacious, nicely finished rooms open into a large, pleasant commons area. The town bought 12 cots and Mayor Bates said they had intended to purchase more, but then were told that FEMA would supply cots in the event of an emergency. However, regulations specify that each cot must be allowed a space of 5’ by 8’ so the town hall has room upstairs for at least 30 adults to sleep. Donations of sheets and blankets for the cots have come in and Mayor Bates will soon buy pillowcases. The youth group of the Hambleton United Methodist Church raised $100 so forty pillows were bought for the emergency shelter.
Hambleton Town Hall now has its own generator, but during Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012 the town of Parsons loaned the town hall a generator. Several local people came to the town hall during and after the storm, bringing food to share with their neighbors, and stayed from early morning to late evening. However, partly because of the lack of privacy, at the end of the day they returned to their own homes to sleep in spite of the cold and no electricity.
The Hambleton United Methodist Church has received Tucker Community Foundation Fund money to renovate their kitchen so they can be an emergency feeding station. They also just ordered a natural gas generator for the feeding station. Mayor Bates, Susie Metzner and Selina Roberts, mayor of Hendricks, are working together with the people of their communities to start a food pantry. Nonperishable foods will be kept at the town hall, because it has more storage space, so food supplies can be a ready for the church to cook with in an emergency. The church can seat 100 people at a time in their dining hall, but also plan on taking meals to anyone staying in the town hall that would be unable to get to the church.
In addition to the improvements to the town hall and church, Susie Metzner, pastor of the Hambleton UM church, is interested in getting a Citizens Emergency Response Team started to serve the area. After the formation of a CERT team, volunteers will already be organized to provide a wide variety of services to the community in a disaster, such as very basic emergency first aid, basic fire suppression (how to use a fire extinguisher), basic search and rescue as well as a terrorism module dealing with the psychological effects of a disaster. Additionally volunteers would take meals to anyone unable to leave their homes or bring them to the town hall if they need shelter and are unable to travel. Elkins has had a CERT for many years and now there’s one in the Leadmine area as well. Rene Crowl provides the 20 hours of training necessary for any area interested in having a CERT and would like to start classes here in March.
Mayor Linda Bates, Pastor Susie Metzner and Mayor Selina Roberts are very excited about the many new ways the people of the towns of Hambleton and Hendricks can work together in the event of an emergency. If you would like to donate materials, your time, or to register for the CERT training please call Mayor Bates at 304-478-4280 or Susie Metzner at 304-478-3439.
By Pamela Ruediger
The Parsons Advocate