While there’s no free lunch, you will be able to wash it down with a free bottle of water or two.
Free cases of water are being handed out Wednesday at California University of Pennsylvania’s Adamson Stadium parking lot on Route 88 as part of an emergency preparedness program sponsored by the state Department of Human Services.
“All 14 state schools have been designated as regional large shelters in the event of an emergency,” said Sharon Elkettani, the director of environmental health and safety at Cal U.
As part of that emergency network, the university has been selected as a distribution point for bottled water as the department rotates its stock of emergency supplies, Elkettani said.
“This helps us with our strategic plan in the event of an emergency,” Elkettani said.
Volunteers from the university will be handing out 360 cases of water to anyone who stops by the stadium between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“Our biggest issue is getting the word out, because we want to have a lot of participants. It’s going to be a drive-through distribution,” Elkettani said.
Elkettani said participants will be asked for their ZIP code and number of people in their household when they first arrive at the site to let the team know the reach of their distribution.
“That’s the true test of our system — how well we get the information out. We want to reach as many people as possible,” Elkettani said.
Once they’ve provided their ZIP code and household information, participants will then receive information from the Red Cross about emergency preparedness. The last stop before exiting the stadium grounds will be to receive the free case of water.
Elkettani said the distribution simulates what would occur during the bulk distribution of commodities in the event of a real emergency, providing families with supplies to get them through several days.
Elkettani said this is the first time Cal U has participated in the state distribution exercise. While her office is primarily responsible for emergency preparedness for the university’s staff and students, there is also a community element to the work.
“We’re behind the scenes planning, hoping we never have to use them,” Elkettani said.
Elkettani said in emergency management, the goal is to provide help locally whenever possible, but there could be disasters in which the university is called upon to help residents of a neighboring state who have been evacuated from their homes. Elkettani said that Cal U is in an excellent position to help even in a local emergency, because the campus doesn’t flood when the town floods, plus it has resources at the stadium and even at the adjacent student apartments, even though the apartments are privately owned.
“This helps us know what our resources are,” Elkettani said of the water distribution.