From Then to Now
The vision for the Village Hall when it was purchased in 2010 was for it to take over as the post office for Claiborne residents, be a social gathering place, plus serve as a Resilience Center to aid residents in quickly returning to and restoring their homes following a disaster.
In 2010 the Hall was only partially habitable. Its roof leaked, it was without a kitchen, a bathroom, or running water. Since then it has undergone a major remodeling including structural and mechanical improvements and additions necessary for it to serve its present day role.
Following a disaster, and when in Resilience Center mode, the Hall will provide emergency electricity, water, bathrooms, first aid, cooling and warming space, food warming facilities, meeting spaces, emergency communications and a coordination center for the community’s response.
Beyond these physical resilience needs this community space will support the emotional resilience needed to recover from a disaster.
The Resilience Center is not intended to be used as a shelter; residents can evacuate or shelter in their own homes or County shelters during an emergency. The Resilience Center enables people to leave a shelter more quickly and return to their own homes even though all utilities may not be restored.
Why does Claiborne Need a Resilience Center?
Claiborne is a vulnerable coastal village with an elderly population. The village is also remote - the nearest hospital is 15 miles away; the nearest EMT squad 5 miles away.
Most coastal communities have at least one public building - a church, a firehouse, a business - where people can gather, regroup, plan and help each other. Claiborne has none of those public facilities. The Village Hall is the only building large enough to provide these services.
A community resilience center reduces a community’s dependence on outside assistance during the early recovery from the impacts of any extreme event. This is critical to Claiborne, since Federal, state and local emergency resources in the immediate aftermath of a disaster will be constrained to focus on more populated and less remote areas.
How and when would a Resilience Center be used?
The most likely scenario for the use of the Resilience Center would be an ice storm, hurricane or Nor’Easter accompanied by an extended electrical outage. We have all experienced one or more of these storms in our lifetimes. Electricity would not be restored for a number of days, perhaps as long as a week. In an ice storm, residents would have sheltered in place, waking up in a cold, dark house.
In a few hours the ice would melt enough for people to begin moving about. Emergency vehicles would be able to enter the village. While a few residents have wood stoves, most residents would be without electricity or heat. Cooking would be limited to houses using propane or wood. Elderly residents would be at increased risk of illness. No hot water for bathing would be available.
The Resilience Center will have an emergency generator sized to provide electricity for all of the building’s needs. The Hall will provide a warm respite, a place where residents without propane or wood cooking facilities can warm food and use a bathroom.
What Is the Current Status of the Resilience Center?
Through the efforts of generous donors and village volunteers the building is equipped with an accessible ramp, is properly insulated, has three HVAC systems, hot and cold running water, a warming kitchen, a bathroom built to ADA specifications including a shower, and two- 2,200 gallon holding tanks for waste.
Through a grant from Talbot County Emergency Services the Resilience Center also has an automated external defibrillator (AED) to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. A number of residents have also been trained in the the use of the AED. The Center is also equipped with an extensive first aid kit, has purchased family radios for distribution and are developing a village radio network, and is exploring CERT training.
Partnership with Talbot County Department of Emergency Services
The Talbot County Department of Emergency Services (DES) is encouraging Claiborne village to develop emergency and resilience plans for the village. The goal is to enable residents to spend less time in Talbot County’s shelters and return to their homes as quickly as possible. DES is also encouraging Claiborne to develop an emergency communications network for use before, during and after an event and to provide CERT training for interested residents.