"We know we will need to use shelters again," said Karla Long, Disaster Program Manager with the Red Cross. "We just don't know when."
Volunteers from around the region met in St. Joseph on Wednesday to learn and practice ways to set up a shelter.
"One of the first jobs of the Red Cross when disasters impact the community is to make sure everyone has safe shelter," Long said. "In order to do that we have to have trained staff that need to run it.
In a real life emergency, the Red Cross would use a trailer that stores cots and other emergency items. Today the volunteers are learning how to use these items and be comfortable using them.
"People come to us with a variety of needs, a variety of issues. All are welcome in our shelter," said Long. "We have to have the resources they need, we have to have the information they need, and we have to be able to accommodate them.
One of the volunteers is Bob Wayman. When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, Wayman got his first experience in helping out after a disaster.
"The people needed food and we got it to them out where they were and that was terrific," Wayman said.
By attending this class, Wayman could practice his skills with other volunteers and learn from experienced workers. This is something the Red Cross says is vital if a real disaster struck here.
"We have to be ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week so this training is getting us there," Long said.