The Palm Beach County Administrator is asking county employees to sign up to work at hurricane shelters, saying they will no longer rely on Red Cross volunteers to staff the shelters.
In a letter to county employees, administrator Verdenia Baker said they would train 250 to 300 county workers to volunteer in 15 general population shelters.
Employees who sign up within the next week can pick the shelter where they would like to work. All will be paid for their efforts.
In a written statement, the Red Cross said they will continue to provide assistance during shelter operations in case of a storm.
Red Cross Communications Manager Roberto Baltodano released the following statement regarding the matter:
As part of our preparation for the 2017 hurricane season the Red Cross has met with county emergency management officials to provide realistic estimates of how many evacuation shelters (pre-storm) the Red Cross will be expected to manage in support of the counties’ shelter operations. We will continue to manage and provide staffing for evacuation shelters, as well as for post-storm shelters. Palm Beach County has requested that we continue as partners and that the Red Cross continue to support their shelter operations, which will be managed by school principals.
Clearly, there can be various reasons why volunteers may not be able to work at a shelter. Not leaving their family behind is likely one of those reasons. However, our disaster workforce consists of more than 90% volunteers and one of our working principles is to insure we have sufficient depth in our volunteer ranks to accommodate the reality that not every volunteer can work on every disaster.
Baltodano said the Red Cross is still in talks with Palm Beach County to make sure shelter operations run as smoothly as possible. He says it will be a collaborative effort between the county and the Red Cross.