BOCH CERT Deploying Throughout the Blizzard

As the Cape was being battered by our most recent storm, BOCH CERT volunteers were out responding to the needs of the communities we serve. As an integral part of the Barnstable County’s Regional Emergency Plan for the Lower Cape, leadership has been preparing for months just to be able to support local towns in weather emergencies just like this weekend. We have trained and continue to train extensively on avenues of support, like manning Personal Care Centers and Shelters, just so we can be of service in times of crisis.

Long before the first flake hit the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, BOCH CERT volunteers were already standing up, signing up for rosters to support all four towns. This group of intrepid volunteers geared up and prepared to deploy before, during, and after the storm, leaving their homes and families behind to help out our neighbors. We don’t always know where we will be needed, so BOCH CERT volunteers prepare to go anywhere, expect challenges, and try to provide solutions. One thing that’s true about Cape Cod folk is we believe community matters because out here, sometimes your neighbors, local first responders, and various volunteers from local organizations may be all the support you have. We are proud to support those ends in Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich (as well as Eastham’s Nauset Shelter). Semper Gumby! Always Flexible!

So this is the round up of all our deployments over the January Blizzard. Friday Night, the entire team was invited into a crucial readiness conference call by leadership where rosters were finalized for deployment possibilities in the four towns as well as activation for support at Barnstable Regional Shelter in Eastham. On Saturday Morning at 6am a Pre-Storm team was deployed to Eastham to support AmeriCorp, LCAST/DART, MRC, Eastham Police Department, and operations staff in brining the regional shelter online, ready to accept local residents and their pets in need. Throughout the storm, this volunteer team maintained a safe, warm space with power and food for evacuees coming from Provincetown to Orleans. Four additional members deployed mid-storm in blizzard conditions to support overnight as relief. The following morning, an additional 4 members were mobilized to take over support and eventually help shut down operations as power was returned to the Cape.

But that’s not all, folks! BOCH CERT has such a deep team bench, members were able to support Brewster’s Personal Care Center needs as well as deploying in Chatham, which suffered 90% power outages, all the days and hours needed, through the storm and the aftermath. BOCH CERT teams at Nauset Shelter and Chatham were in constant contact with each other using recently deployed communication technology allowing everyone to plan for evacuees if necessary. Stand-by team members were able to listen in to deployment needs and weather conditions and respond as needed throughout most of the storm.

BOCH CERT has been staffing Personal Care Centers around the Lower Cape this year and working with local town officials, we’ve been able to provide a small respite for community members in need. “Warming Centers” provide power to charge devices, a warm place to sit for a short while, get water and information while still sheltering in their homes for most of the day. Towns often will provide transportation to these facilities for residents who cannot make it on their own. As always, thanks to the team members who dug out and showed up to make a difference!

It’s hard to believe that BOCH CERT is barely in its third year of operation and already such an integral part of the Lower Cape. Through a COVID pandemic, windstorms, and blizzards our team member’s continue to simply show up and be prepared to face big and small challenges just to make a small impact on the lives and well being of our small communities in the Lower Cape.

Thanks to our Regional Council for giving us the space to grow and the opportunities to help. Thanks to Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, Harwich, and also Eastham Police, Fire, DPW, and Town officials who continue to extend patience and grace to our team members as they learn how to manage in new roles and also hold our volunteers in high regard, never leaving an opportunity to praise us go unmentioned. Thanks to Barnstable County Regional Emergency Response Council and the Regional Shelter team for training us and believing in our abilities to get the job done. Finally, a huge shout out to our partner organizations Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corp, DART/LCAST, AmeriCorps of Cape Cod for their help and partnership in getting the job done! Well Done everyone!

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