When an emergency response organization is itself located in an area prone to a severe weather condition, something is not quite right.
That was the position the Red Cross of Juneau was in when before it moved from its previous location, 3225 Hospital Dr., to its new location at 5636 Glacier Highway. The organization celebrated its new, safer and bigger location with an open house event Thursday.
“With the many response areas we have to cover, being in a floodplain is probably not the best idea,” said Andrew Bogar, Program Manager of Southeast Alaska Red Cross.
“If there is a flood, then the emergency responders would have been in the flood,” Executive Director of the Interior and Southeast Alaska for Red Cross Lori Wilson said.
Another issue was the overall size difference and its proximity to rescue gear and equipment.
“We had a storage unit (in the old building) that was not attached and it was difficult to get to,” Bogar said. “In an emergency situation, if we had to get our stuff out, it was really not convenient or conducive for that. So moving all of our stuff in here is better for that.”
Bogar said the new unit, which has a large door opening that flows into an open working office space is also more of what Red Cross, as an organization, represents.
“We have moved from 500 square feet to 1,700 square feet,” Bogar said. “We have a blended workforce when you walk into the office you should not be able to tell the difference between paid staff and volunteers. One of our philosophies is that if you are branded with the American Red Cross, you speak with the authority of the whole organization.”
Wilson said the new space simply allows the organization to run more smoothly and gives a proper space for equipment.
“This space is larger and is climate-controlled, and we’re a place where climate-control is important to preserve our supplies, our equipment and everything else we need,” Wilson said.
Disaster Program Manager volunteer Chip Wagoner said the new space not only helps in a crisis situation, but also adds to the training portion of the Red Cross.
“Our old space was cramped and it did not allow us to do enough training,” Wagoner said. “We are a growing organization and for us to have more room allows us to provide more extensive training for our volunteers.”
Wilson also said the new space gives the organization — which has existed in Juneau for 101 years — a proper area to operate.
“If a larger disaster occurs, we have the ability (with the larger space) to run an entire operation out of this site,” Wilson said. “It gives us the ability to truly do what it is we do. It is a great opportunity for us and we are super excited.”
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.