The emergency response to Tropical Storm Irene has receded with the floodwater, but those who gathered in the Waterbury Congregational Church Saturday morning are preparing for the next disaster. It's a step community leaders say they wish they had taken prior to last year's storm.
"I felt like I was floundering and I felt like it was chaos," said Reverend Peter Plagge.
"So we're learning today from the Red Cross folks how to have a more organized setting," said Waterbury's clerk and treasurer, Carla Lawrence.
"A couple of simple steps could've made all of us feel a bit more comfortable," said Reverend Peter Plagge.
The Red Cross is distributing emergency supplies paid for by Green Mountain Coffee, Simon Pearce, and private donors. Saturday, Volunteer Mike Lynch gave the first preparedness course. Past and future volunteers learned how to assemble cots and an action plan should another cataclysmic event strike.
"I think there's a number of possibilities, there's flooding there's ice storms, fires, apartment fires, residential care home safety concerns and I think this type of setting can be applied to any of those," said Carla Lawrence.
Reverend Peter Plagge says a step as simple as putting a bright-colored bib on coordinators can make a big difference, as does a supply of blankets, water, battery operated radios and flashlights. He says with Saturday's high-turnout - if disaster strikes again, they'll be staffed well enough to solve even individual problems.
"We can say we're here for you," said Reverend Peter Plagge.
Waterbury is the first community to receive this new training. But organizers say they hope to cover every community in the state during the next two years.