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Dale's mobile disaster relief - I have a bus full of tents, cooking equip. Starting an organization  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6696
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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None of the forums really fit this one but it is a personal project, without connection to my land.

This is an idea that has been brewing in the back of my mind since I first decided to set up my camping bus. With the the big storm, Hurricane Sandy, lashing the eastern half of the continent, today seem as good as any to put it to print.

My bus holds 24 passengers and contains several propane barbeques. I have enough tents to accommodate about 100 people and the cooking facilities could cook for an even larger crowd and could boil water.The bus produces electricity and could be used to charge cell phones and run some lights for emergency personnel.

So, it makes sense to utilize these assets in the event of an earth quake or tsunami or other disaster.

I called the fire department a few months back to see if there was a registry for those with mobile assets such as mine. None exists outside of government owned facilities. I suppose that when something happens, I could make some calls (that go to voice mail no doubt).

Our most likely scenario is an earth quake that would do much more damage in the downtown than it would in the countryside where most buildings are made of wood. Our old area is mostly brick. Quakes cause tsunamis and fires.

There is a large park adjacent to the downtown that is far above sea level and pretty safe from any spreading fires or waves. If I'm in town when something happens, my current plan is to get the bus to Beacon Hill Park. I can only assume that police would turn me away since this is an obvious staging ground for first responders.

As a tourism city, there are several other outfitters, wilderness adventure companies and other businesses who own assets that would be useful in a disaster situation. I'm going to call around some more and if nothing exists to coordinate our efforts, I will take it upon myself to get everyone willing to help to list their location and to list all of the various assets. Many of these businesses employ people trained in first aid, search and rescue and other skills that would really be in demand when disaster strikes. Once a comprehensive list exists, I can't see the government turning it down, bad PR.

The schools regularly drill kids on being prepared, the papers and TV warn us about this need and many households have some sort of plan. It only makes sense that all assets within the community are known and properly deployed when needed. I'm going to keep making calls .Wish me luck.
 
Leila Rich
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Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Luck wished Dale, it sounds like a great plan!
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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After several calls, I reached a lady at city hall who informed me that a list does exist, but no one contacts businesses about this. They only get added if they somehow come up with the same idea that I presented and they call in to talk to the disaster preparedness committee. IN OTHER WORDS, NOTHING IS REALLY BEING DONE. She suggested that I should call the fire department in the event of a disaster and offer my services then. I'm sure that would involve many failed attempts to reach a real person and the answering system would be overwhelmed. It only makes sense to do this on a slow day for the fire department.

She promised that someone from this group would follow up with a phone call. They haven't called. And that's how the wheels of bureaucracy work.
 
Barbara Rhoads
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Location: North Eastern California
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Dale,
Perhaps rather than waiting for a disaster create a flier to mail to your local emergency agencies and also groups or organizations that assist in emergencies (such as Red Cross) include agencies as far away as you would be willing to travel. That way if/when a disaster happens the folks in charge of setting relief up will already have your information and the services you are able to provide.
 
Lisa Paulson
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I realize you posted this a few years back but I just saw it and it impressed me as a very thoughtful and innovative idea . Now if only people would look into these things before their apartment building burns down, or we have an earthquake or tsunami ... or a hundred other reasons why one might suddenly need such a service. I once attended a wedding in Beacon Hill Park, when I left Vancouver it was sunny and I was taking the public bus from the ferry landing into Victoria . It then proceeded to be driving rain the entire day . I and about 60 other people wish there was someone there with a bus or tent : )
 
Josef Theisen
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Location: SE Wisconsin, USA zone 5b
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Dale, you always have the most interesting projects. I have also really enjoyed your photos. Honestly, I don't know where you find the energy and time for it all.

If you are still pursuing this I would like to pose a few questions. How would the economics of this work? Is it a donation? Are you are prepared to have your equipment trashed, stolen, and otherwise abused? Or are you planning to charge for your services and if so how will you protect yourself from accusations of price gouging? In either case how will you protect yourself from liability claims? Are you prepared to manage the equipment and cook for people all day? all week? all month?

I love the concept, but I am struggling to see how it could work within our current framework. Perhaps forming an NPO or working with an existing one could solve some of these dilemmas and get you more traction in dealing with government.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Josef Theisen wrote:Dale, you always have the most interesting projects. I have also really enjoyed your photos. Honestly, I don't know where you find the energy and time for it all.

If you are still pursuing this I would like to pose a few questions. How would the economics of this work? Is it a donation? Are you are prepared to have your equipment trashed, stolen, and otherwise abused? Or are you planning to charge for your services and if so how will you protect yourself from accusations of price gouging? In either case how will you protect yourself from liability claims? Are you prepared to manage the equipment and cook for people all day? all week? all month?

I love the concept, but I am struggling to see how it could work within our current framework. Perhaps forming an NPO or working with an existing one could solve some of these dilemmas and get you more traction in dealing with government.


I haven't been finding any time for this recently. I'm sure if I was to keep track of my activity on the forum and my various tinkerings, it would show that I am much more prolific during bouts of bad weather or periods when work is slack. Lately, work has been controling every waking hour.

The economics are pretty simple. I already own all of this stuff and plenty of wear and tear is expected. Disasters aren't very common around here, so I don't expect to be needed often. Anything lent out will require a deposit and records will be similar to those of a rental shop. As a business that needs exposure to survive, it would seem that being smack in the middle of relief efforts that would dominate news coverage might generate tons of positive publicity. As for charging a fee, I will make those decisions on the fly. If people need to stay with me for several days, then I'll charge the going rate. Those with no money will be put to work.

It could happen that the mobile kitchen is more needed than are tents. If we have a major calamity, I will gladly spend a few hundred providing coffee and hot chocolate and I'll exhaust my propane tanks while cooking for everyone. This isn't a quantity of money that will make any long term dent in my finances. I live in a fairly affluent city where the tip jars are regularly fed at coffee shops and public events. Several volunteer organizations hold fund raisers where they give away free food and drink. The tips more than cover costs. I recall dropping $5 in the jar when the Boys and Girls club fed me a hamburger and tea that probably cost around $1.50 to buy. But again, the quantity of money that I will expend will be limited to a few hundred.
 
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