Local American Red Cross chapter sets up mock shelter to show us what a safe space looks like at site of a disaster

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - We keep talking about the shelters saving lives during former Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. But, what happens inside those buildings? The local chapter of the American Red Cross set up a mock shelter to give reporters a look around a sample shelter.

"Getting them comfortable and dry," Linda Johnson, Disaster Services Specialist for north Alabama's Red Cross chapter, said. "We need to create an atmosphere as much as possible that would be comfortable for the clients."

Shelters like the model at the Red Cross' building in Huntsville are similar to the set-ups in the flooded areas of Louisiana and Texas.

"We would create a huge message board for the clients so that when they walk in. If they need to register with Safe and Well, which we have a Safe and Well website, they would identify that they are in a shelter," Johnson explained. "So, if their family members are looking for them, they'll be able to look on the Red Cross website and know that they are identified in our shelter."

The safe spaces offer medical and health care supplies, food and diapers and a warm and dry place for flood victims to rest their heads. Those with the Red Cross said hope starts under a safe roof, with people who are ready and willing to serve.

"To give them a hug and a smile, and to make them feel comfortable," Johnson said of the shelter's priorities. "We want to make sure that they're identifying with their family members."

Those with the American Red Cross said this mock shelter also simulates what disaster response teams would set up locally should we face a tragedy.